City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi

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Peeling back the layers of Delhi’s centuries-old history, City of Djinns is an irresistible blend of research and adventure.

Sparkling with irrepressible wit, City of Djinns peels back the layers of Delhi's centuries-old history, revealing an extraordinary array of characters along the way-from eunuchs to descendants of great Moguls. With refreshingly open-minded curiosity, William Dalrymple explores the seven "dead" cities of Delhi as well as the eighth city—today's Delhi. Underlying his quest is the legend of the djinns, fire-formed spirits that are said to assure the city's Phoenix-like regeneration no matter how many times it is destroyed. Entertaining, fascinating, and informative, City of Djinns is an irresistible blend of research and adventure.
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From William Dalrymple—award-winning historian, journalist and travel writer—a masterly retelling of what was perhaps the West’s greatest imperial disaster in the East, and an important parable of neocolonial ambition, folly and hubris that has striking relevance to our own time.

With access to newly discovered primary sources from archives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and India—including a series of previously untranslated Afghan epic poems and biographies—the author gives us the most immediate and comprehensive account yet of the spectacular first battle for Afghanistan: the British invasion of the remote kingdom in 1839. Led by lancers in scarlet cloaks and plumed helmets, and facing little resistance, nearly 20,000 British and East India Company troops poured through the mountain passes from India into Afghanistan in order to reestablish Shah Shuja ul-Mulk on the throne, and as their puppet. But after little more than two years, the Afghans rose in answer to the call for jihad and the country exploded into rebellion. This First Anglo-Afghan War ended with an entire army of what was then the most powerful military nation in the world ambushed and destroyed in snowbound mountain passes by simply equipped Afghan tribesmen. Only one British man made it through.

But Dalrymple takes us beyond the bare outline of this infamous battle, and with penetrating, balanced insight illuminates the uncanny similarities between the West’s first disastrous entanglement with Afghanistan and the situation today. He delineates the straightforward facts: Shah Shuja and President Hamid Karzai share the same tribal heritage; the Shah’s principal opponents were the Ghilzai tribe, who today make up the bulk of the Taliban’s foot soldiers; the same cities garrisoned by the British are today garrisoned by foreign troops, attacked from the same rings of hills and high passes from which the British faced attack. Dalryrmple also makes clear the byzantine complexity of Afghanistan’s age-old tribal rivalries, the stranglehold they have on the politics of the nation and the ways in which they ensnared both the British in the nineteenth century and NATO forces in the twenty-first.

Informed by the author’s decades-long firsthand knowledge of Afghanistan, and superbly shaped by his hallmark gifts as a narrative historian and his singular eye for the evocation of place and culture, The Return of a King is both the definitive analysis of the First Anglo-Afghan War and a work of stunning topicality.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Mar 25, 2003
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9781101127018
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Travel / Asia / India & South Asia
Travel / Essays & Travelogues
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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**SHORTLISTED FOR ADVENTURE TRAVEL BOOK OF THE YEAR, 2018 EDWARD STANFORD AWARD**

A thrilling and dangerous adventure through Arunachal Pradesh, one of the world's least explored places. 

'A fabulously thrilling journey through a beguiling land' Joanna Lumley 

'With tremendous verve and determination Antonia plunges through an extraordinary world. Thank heavens she survived to tell this vivid and thoughtful tale' Ted Simon, author of Jupiter's Travels 

'A tale of delight and exuberance - and one I'd thoroughly recommend. Bolingbroke-Kent proves a great travelling companion - compassionate, spirited and with a sharp eye for human oddity' Benedict Allen, author of Edge of Blue Heaven and Into the Abyss 

'A transformative journey that gripped me from the very first page' Alastair Humphreys, author of The Boy Who Biked the World and Microadventures

'Remote, mountainous and forbidding, here shamans still fly through the night, hidden valleys conceal portals to other worlds, yetis leave footprints in the snow, spirits and demons abound, and the gods are appeased by the blood of sacrificed beasts' 

A mountainous state clinging to the far north-eastern corner of India, Arunachal Pradesh - meaning 'land of the dawn-lit mountains' - has remained uniquely isolated. 

Steeped in myth and mystery, not since pith-helmeted explorers went in search of the fabled 'Falls of the Brahmaputra' has an outsider dared to traverse it. 

Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent sets out to chronicle this forgotten corner of Asia. Travelling some 2,000 miles she encounters shamans, lamas, hunters, opium farmers, fantastic tribal festivals and little-known stories from the Second World War. 

In the process, she discovers a world and a way of living that are on the cusp of changing forever. 

'A beautifully written, exciting and revealing book that harks back to a golden age of travel writing' Lois Pryce, author of Revolutionary Ride 
 
A Nobel Laureate offers a dazzling new book about his native country
India is a country with many distinct traditions, widely divergent customs, vastly different convictions, and a veritable feast of viewpoints. In The Argumentative Indian, Amartya Sen draws on a lifetime study of his country's history and culture to suggest the ways we must understand India today in the light of its rich, long argumentative tradition.
The millenia-old texts and interpretations of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim, agnostic, and atheistic Indian thought demonstrate, Sen reminds us, ancient and well-respected rules for conducting debates and disputations, and for appreciating not only the richness of India's diversity but its need for toleration.
Though Westerners have often perceived India as a place of endless spirituality and unreasoning mysticism, he underlines its long tradition of skepticism and reasoning, not to mention its secular contributions to mathematics, astronomy, linguistics, medicine, and political economy.
Sen discusses many aspects of India's rich intellectual and political heritage, including philosophies of governance from Kautilya's and Ashoka's in the fourth and third centuries BCE to Akbar's in the 1590s; the history and continuing relevance of India's relations with China more than a millennium ago; its old and well-organized calendars; the films of Satyajit Ray and the debates between Gandhi and the visionary poet Tagore about India's past, present, and future.
The success of India's democracy and defense of its secular politics depend, Sen argues, on understanding and using this rich argumentative tradition. It is also essential to removing the inequalities (whether of caste, gender, class, or community) that mar Indian life, to stabilizing the now precarious conditions of a nuclear-armed subcontinent, and to correcting what Sen calls the politics of deprivation. His invaluable book concludes with his meditations on pluralism, on dialogue and dialectics in the pursuit of social justice, and on the nature of the Indian identity.
White Mughals is the romantic and ultimately tragic tale of a passionate love affair that crossed and transcended all the cultural, religious and political boundaries of its time.

James Achilles Kirkpatrick was the British Resident at the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad when in 1798 he glimpsed Kahir un-Nissa—'Most excellent among Women'—the great-niece of the Nizam's Prime Minister and a descendant of the Prophet. Kirkpatrick had gone out to India as an ambitious soldier in the army of the East India Company, eager to make his name in the conquest and subjection of the subcontinent. Instead, he fell in love with Khair and overcame many obstacles to marry her—not least of which was the fact that she was locked away in purdah and engaged to a local nobleman. Eventually, while remaining Resident, Kirkpatrick converted to Islam, and according to Indian sources even became a double-agent working for the Hyderabadis against the East India Company.

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In White Mughals, William Dalrymple discovers a world almost entirely unexplored by history, and places at its centre a compelling tale of love, seduction and betrayal. It possesses all the sweep and resonance of a great nineteenth-century novel, set against a background of shifting alliances and the manoeuvring of the great powers, the mercantile ambitions of the British and the imperial dreams of Napoleon. White Mughals, the product of five years' writing and research, triumphantly confirms Dalrymple's reputation as one of the finest writers at work today.

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