This portrait of 18th-century India is, as you would expect from its author, well-written and extensively researched, and endowed with numerous endnotes that are remarkable for its dependence on local Mughal sources. As William Dalrymple reminds us, such sources were far from impartial in assessing the British masters who replaced the Mughal patrons of the region. His nostalgia for the disappeared Mughal world sometimes makes him uncritical of such party political reports.
Nowhere is this more evident than in his treatment of Robert Clive, the founder of the British Indian Empire, who is portrayed here as a racist, corrupt adventurer. Although he undoubtedly made these mistakes at different times, there is little recognition of the leadership qualities that made him such a successful g...
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