The last Nizam: The Rise and Fall of India's Greatest Princely State,
Picador India, 2007
William Dalrymple: “John Zubrzycki has pulled off a remarkable coup: The Last Nizam is the sort of amazing, jaw dropping and almost completely unexplored and unwritten story that writers of non-fiction spend their careers dreaming of, and tend only to find one or twice in their lives.”
Tom Keneally: “One has to be exhilarated by the contradictions and wonders of this story. It is a tale told with a novelists vivacity, a first-class narrator's eye for pace, and a poets sensibility for language. A delightful read.”
In the ruins of the Mughal Empire arose a dynasty that amassed more wealth than all of India’s other princes put together and became so powerful it determined the fortunes of the British Raj. The Nizams of Hyderabad created a state that eclipsed Constantinople as a centre for Muslim culture and learning, but was mired in corruption and depravity. In the 1880s The Times described Hyderabad as the ‘greatest hotbed of intrigue’ in all of India. When Mukarram Jah, the western-educated grandson of the last Caliph of Islam on his mother’s side and the richest man in the world on his father’s, came to the throne in 1967, little if anything had changed.
Yet in one of the strangest twists in the dynasty’s long and dramatic history, Jah turned his back on Hyderabad to become a sheep farmer in Western Australia, creating a half-million-acre kingdom of barbed wire and blow flies as the vast fortune he inherited turned to dust.
With unrivalled access to the main actors in the drama and to an extraordinary wealth of archival material, John Zubrzycki has traced the rise and fall of India’s pre-eminent princely state, from the attar-scented palaces of Hyderabad to the Australian outback.
The Sydney Morning Herald,
A story of wealth lost and squandered, of the frailty of human vanity.
July 25, 2006
The very idea of a fabulously wealthy Indian prince washing up in Western Australia and proceeding to lose - through sheer incompetence and a little help from his friends - his entire fortune is irresistible.