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The Last Hindu Emperor
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Book description

This fascinating new study traces traditions and memories relating to the twelfth-century Indian ruler Prithviraj Chauhan; a Hindu king who was defeated and overthrown during the conquest of Northern India by Muslim armies from Afghanistan. Surveying a wealth of narratives that span more than 800 years, Cynthia Talbot explores the reasons why he is remembered, and by whom. In modern times, the Chauhan king has been referred to as 'the last Hindu emperor', because Muslim rule prevailed for centuries following his defeat. Despite being overthrown, however, his name and story have evolved over time into a historical symbol of India's martial valor. The Last Hindu Emperor sheds new light on the enduring importance of heroic histories in Indian culture and the extraordinary ability of historical memory to transform the hero of a clan into the hero of a community, and finally a nation.

Reviews

'While Talbot’s archive is almost entirely restricted to the written word, she executes a sensitive reading that allows her to furnish a nuanced picture of the communities that wrote and read such works. Especially rich is Talbot’s description of the Rajput elites for whom the Raso was a central text beginning in the late sixteenth century.'

Audrey Truschke Source: H-Asia

'… Cynthia Talbot seeks to excavate the layers of memory sedimented around the celebrated Indian king Prithviraj Chauhan (1166–1192). … Talbot’s book … highlights the continued relevance of medieval history in the politics of the past.'

Daud Ali Source: American Historical Review

'This lucidly written and clearly argued monograph traces the narrative career of Prithviraj Chauhan, the ruler of Ajmer (southwest of Delhi) in the twelfth century, who was defeated by the Turkic ruler from Ghur, Shihab al-Din, in 1192 CE. … this monograph would be a wonderful resource in courses on historical method - on reading of different genres of historical evidence - as well as in comparative courses on history and memory, and in courses on history and memory in colonial and postcolonial worlds.'

Ramya Sreenivasan Source: The Journal of Asian Studies

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