18 November, 2019

#BookReview :: Dara Shukoh: The Man Who would be king by @avik_chanda

Check out the book on Amazon


I was hoping for a fictional story to tell me about the life of this ‘could-have-been-king’ prince when I picked up the book. Instead what I found between the pages was a non-fictional but well researched biography. It was my fault as I overlooked the genre mention in the review request email. However, I it turned out to be a happy mistake as I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and looking up places and people while reading it.

The author has presented the biography in a way that almost makes you feel that the stories / incidents are being told by someone who had witnessed it all first hand. Right from the first chapter ‘Rites of Passage’, there was a feel of storytelling in a way that you would expect in a fiction. It has this feel of ‘let me tell you the story of the life of this Prince’, rather than ‘here are the facts and the research to back up those facts about the life of the Mughal Prince’. As such the narrative of this biography made it a very engaging read.

Historians have often debated about the course of history and the fate of our country had Dara Shukoh prevailed and has ascended to the throne as Shah Jahan intended. The main reason for this debate is that Dara Shukoh was known to be more interested in arts and philosophy than he was in military pursuits. He was also considered to be liberal and unorthodox Muslim with an interest in religion and tolerance towards other faiths. The truth is that we will never know what could have happened as we cannot change history. However, author Avik Chanda makes a good case on his view and if you are trying to guess which way he is more inclined, then the title he uses for Dara should give you a good indication.

In addition, the author has provided detailed notes, charts and photos to supplement the readers’ experience. Even if you are someone who knows very little about the dynasty, it will be easy to follow the timeline and understand the life that Dara Shukoh lived and died.



Review copy received from Harper Collins India