Koh-i-noor The history of the world's most infamous diamond

William Dalrymple

Book - 2017

"The first comprehensive and authoritative history of the Koh-i-Noor diamond, arguably the most celebrated jewel in the world....Using original eyewitness accounts and chronicles never before translated into English, Dalrymple and Anand trace the true history of the diamond and disperse the myths and fantastic tales that have long surrounded this awe-inspiring jewel. The resulting history of south and central Asia tells a true tale of greed, conquest, murder, torture, colonialism, and appro...priation that shaped a continent and the Koh-i-Noor itself."--From dust jacket.

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Subjects
Published
New York : Bloomsbury USA 2017.
Edition
First U.S. edition
Language
English
Item Description
"First published in 2016 in India by Juggernaut Books, New Delhi. First published in Great Britain in 2017."--Title page verso.
Physical Description
vi, 335 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map, genealogical table : 22 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 285-318) and index.
ISBN
9781635570762
163557076X
Main Author
William Dalrymple (author)
Other Authors
Anita Anand (author)
  • Part 1: The jewel in the throne
  • The Indian prehistory of the Koh-i-Noor
  • The mughals and the Koh-i-Noor
  • Nader Shah: the Koh-i-Noor goes to Iran
  • the Durranis: the Koh-i-Noor in Afghanistan
  • Ranjit Singh: the Koh-i-Noor in Lahore
  • Part 2: The jewel in the crown
  • City of ash
  • The boy king
  • Passage to England
  • The Great Exhibition
  • The first cut
  • Queen Victoria's "Loyal subject"
  • The jewel and the crown
  • "We must take back the Koh-i-Noor."
Review by Booklist Reviews

Locked within the Tower of London, on display for millions of visitors seeing the Crown Jewels, is one of history's most famous diamonds, Koh-I-Noor. This large diamond from the Indian subcontinent became the property of Queen Victoria in 1849 when 10-year-old maharaja Duleep Singh surrendered it to the East India Company. With the transfer, Singh lost his symbol of power, and the British Empire cemented its control over all of India. Unsurprisingly, India now wants the diamond back, as do Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, whose rulers at one time either wore or sat below Koh-I-Noor. The first part of this new history revises the somewhat fuzzy provenance of the jewel, for which many people died. The second recounts Great Britain's acquiring, displaying, and protecting of the diamond, including the story of Prince Albert's controversial recutting of the stone. Though both parts read quickly, many readers will find the second, with its account of British royalty, more interesting. For pleasure reading. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

British historians Dalrymple (Return of a King) and Anand (Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary) trace the complicated, bloody, conflict-laden history of the Koh-I-Noor diamond in this winning account, following the diamond's chain of ownership through the centuries. Drawing together firsthand accounts and historical documents, the authors attempt to nail down the famous diamond's origins, starting with rumors and legends dating back to the 16th century. The gem is invariably linked to conquest, repeatedly passing hands from one ruler and country to another: from India's Mughal dynasty to Nader Shah of Iran to Ahmad Khan Abdali of Afghanistan, then to the Sikhs and finally into the hands of the British Empire, where it remains today. This book is equally about those who have coveted and possessed the diamond as it is about the legendary stone; dynasties rise and fall, and rumors of a curse may be well-earned: "Its owners have variously been blinded, slow-poisoned, tortured to death, burned in oil, threatened with drowning, crowned with molten lead, assassinated by their own family and bodyguards, or have lost their kingdoms and died in penury." It's an eye-opening, informative, and entertainingly lurid narrative; the authors virtually revel in visceral details while highlighting the colonialism and appropriation so entwined with the diamond's history. (Sept.) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A history of the Koh-i-Noor diamond, the most famous and mythological diamond in the world, tells a true tale of greed, conquest, murder, torture, colonialism, and appropriation that shaped a continent.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

From the internationally acclaimed and bestselling historians William Dalrymple and Anita Anand, the first comprehensive and authoritative history of the Koh-i-Noor diamond, arguably the most celebrated jewel in the world.On March 29, 1849, the ten-year-old leader of the Sikh kingdom of the Punjab was ushered into the magnificent Mirrored Hall at the center of the British fort in Lahore, India. There, in a formal Act of Submission, the frightened but dignified child handed over to the British East India Company swathes of the richest land in India and the single most valuable object in the subcontinent: the celebrated Koh-i-Noor diamond, otherwise known as the Mountain of Light. To celebrate the acquisition, the British East India Company commissioned a history of the diamond woven together from the gossip of the Delhi Bazaars. From that moment forward, the Koh-i-Noor became the most famous and mythological diamond in history, with thousands of people coming to see it at the 1851 Great Exhibition and still more thousands repeating the largely fictitious account of its passage through history. Using original eyewitness accounts and chronicles never before translated into English, Dalrymple and Anand trace the true history of the diamond and disperse the myths and fantastic tales that have long surrounded this awe-inspiring jewel. The resulting history of south and central Asia tells a true tale of greed, conquest, murder, torture, colonialism, and appropriation that shaped a continent and the Koh-i-Noor itself.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

From the internationally acclaimed and bestselling historians William Dalrymple and Anita Anand, the first comprehensive and authoritative history of the Koh-i-Noor diamond, arguably the most celebrated jewel in the world.