Kohinoor by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand (2016)

A comprehensive account of history behind the Kohinoor diamond

Kohinoor - William Dalrymple

If there’s one diamond that has captured the imagination of generations- it is the           Koh-i-noor. Dalrymple and Anand’s book takes the reader through the presumed journey of this famed diamond right from the alleged theft from the ancient Syamantaka temple in India, to the hands of Mughals, the Persians, the Afghans, the Sikhs, and finally the British.

The book is divided into two-parts, in the first, Dalrymple chalks out the ownership of the diamond up until Ranjit Singh’s possession and Anita Anand takes it forward by delving deep into the dynamics of East India Company’s appropriation of the diamond from the Sikhs against the backdrop of India’s colonisation.

The authors do a commendable job in piecing together the chequered history of the diamond despite limited evidence and keep the reader engaged, especially the segues they take to explain the obsession behind the Kohinoor owing to the importance each of the parties attached to gem ownership. They map out how the diamond’s allure grew with time, especially after Nader Shah’s possession from the Mughals and reached its zenith during Britain’s acquisition, so much so, that the claims to the diamond is still contested today by India, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.

The strength of the book lies in the impeccable clarity of thought and creative expression that brings a new perspective to previously known facts in Indian history, thereby, making it an enjoyable read for all history enthusiasts and general readers alike.

Rating: 4/5

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