Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond
The authors present a well-researched history behind the world-famous Koh-i-Noor diamond, currently on display at the Tower of London. Although the tales of its discovery in medieval times in South India are the stuff of legend, its first recorded mention is traced in the memoirs of Mughal Emperors, and more so in writings of a Persian historian in 1740. The book sets the record straight on the “bazaar tittle-tattles” such as the Persian King obtaining it in a turban exchange with the Delhi Emperor. Following a historical narrative of the Koh-i-Noor’s tumultuous journey to Persia and its return in 1813 to India, the confusion whether or not the last Sikh Maharaja Duleep Singh gifted it to Queen Victoria is resolved.
This book mostly succeeds in its attempt to separate historical facts from myths. The narrative also touches on the curse the Koh-i-Noor allegedly possesses, and details the horrible catastrophes suffered by those connected with it—even by those on the ship carrying it to Britain. Notwithstanding these fables, the authors devote a good portion to the discussion of claims by various parties for its repossession. Typically, as historians, the authors have laid out all the facts and, taking a non-judgmental approach, have left it for the readers to contemplate the future of this priceless gem. It’s a much needed historical work, and a pleasure to read. Highly recommended.