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Taj Mahal: Passion and Genius at the Heart of the Moghul Empire [Audiobook] [Englisch] [Audio CD]

Diana Preston , Michael Preston , James Adams

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April 2007
The dazzling story of the Taj Mahal and the empire whose spirit it epitomizes.

Built by the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal’s flawless symmetry and gleaming presence have or centuries dazzled everyone who has seen it, and the story of its creation is a fascinating blend of cultural and architectural heritage. Yet, as Diana and Michael Preston vividly convey in the first narrative history of the Taj, it also reflects the magnificent history of the Moghul Empire itself, for it turned out to mark the high point of the empire’s glory at the same time as it became a tipping point in Moghul fortunes. With the storytelling skills that characterize their previous books, the Prestons bring alive both the grand sweep of Moghul history and the details that make it memorable. A tale of overwhelming passion, the story of the Taj has the cadences of Greek tragedy and the ripe emotion of grand opera, and puts a memorable human face on the marble masterpiece.
-- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch .

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Praise for Taj Mahal:

“Filled with quotes, anecdotes and evocative prose, this true tale has, at times, the texture of a historical novel.”—Seattle Times

“This history breaks through the legendary facade to reveal a powerful backstory.”—Publishers Weekly

“In describing the Moghul Empire, the Prestons tell tales of Sunni and Shiite tensions; battles that are won by bribery as much as by force; and religious and clan wars that sweep from Kandahar to Kabul to Kashmir.”—San Diego Union-Tribune
-- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch .

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Diana and Michael Preston are Oxford-trained historians who live in London, England. Diana is the author of A First Rate Tragedy, The Boxer Rebellion, Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy, and Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima, which won the 2006 Los Angeles Times prize for Science & Technology. She and Michael coauthored A Pirate of Exquisite Mind, a biography of the great seventeenth-century adventurer William Dampier.
-- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch .

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Amazon.com: 4.2 von 5 Sternen  8 Rezensionen
34 von 35 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Caveat Emptor: Only 1/4th Focuses on the Taj Mahal Complex 25. März 2007
Von B. Evans - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Although the Prestons' book is well written, only a portion of it delivers what its title and cover seem to promise. This, of course, you will quickly discover if you have a copy to preview. If you don't, you should know that much of the book focuses on the struggles to gain/keep territory and the throne over the course of almost two centuries and six shahs. There is also much information about various shahs' idiosyncrasies and addictions, their strengths and weaknesses as leaders, and the customs of their courts and harems. What 3/4ths of the Prestons' book is really about, in fact, was equally well covered in the aptly titled A Brief History of the Great Moghuls, reprinted in 2002.

It is difficult to rate the approximately 60 pages of text in the Prestons' book that do focus on the Taj complex, including its antecedents, the people directly involved in its construction, its ornamentation, the toll time has taken on it, and a chapter on the theory that Shah Jahan had planned a different mausoleum for himself. Those who are reading about the complex in depth for the first time will likely find the material interesting; those who have read other books on the subject are unlikely to find much that is new.

Unfortunately, it is not at all difficult to rate the 23 snapshots of the Taj complex and related funerary architecture in this book. First, most are small, grainy black and grays that reveal little more than general outlines. Second, even the seven in color (four of them small ones of interior details) are taken from too great a distance to reveal technical brilliance or artistry. That only the cover and another mood shot of the mausoleum appear to be the work of a professional is a major weakness in a book that purports to be about the genius of the Taj Mahal, for only superb photography can truly convey much of it. As for drawings to illuminate structural detail, the only two merely shade in an arch and a vault.

For the reasons noted above and more, if you are interested in India's national treasure, you will do yourself a great favor if, before deciding on the Prestons' book, you investigate the following: 1) Okada, Joshi & Nou's Taj Mahal (1993), a visually stunning and informative book and 2) E. Koch's The Complete Taj Mahal (2006), a TEN-STAR BOOK that "should be in the library of anyone fascinated by the Taj Mahal, not just historians and architects." (Incidentally, that the Prestons' bookcover is almost identical to Koch's does not make their book comparable to hers.)
25 von 26 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen You get the Taj and much more! 30. Juli 2007
Von Michelle K. Caputo - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
For those that want to see complete visuals and illustrations of the Taj Mahal, then this book is not for you. It contained many photos but most were taken at a distance and others were a bit blurry. Even my heavily scratched reading glasses did not assist in delivering me an adequate detailed photo. I visited the Taj, in 2002, and have more interesting photos than what was portrayed in the book. I also visited the Red Fort in 2006, which was also described in the book.
The only other 'pessimistic item' that I would write about was that, at times, it was difficult to follow the authors when they would describe informative detail on the building and how it was constructed. Since there were no photos about these fine details to observe, this information proved difficult to follow. It could be just me. I am a very visual person and that describing things in detail usually averts my attention. I need visuals!
Now, for the good side. I thought the book was very informative on the Moghul empire. It discusses all the friction between the families on the strive to gain power and gives you a pretty good account of the history of India(Moghul empire, mainly) during that time frame. It also makes you understand why imperialistic empires just don't survive and how the desire for power destroyed this infamous empire. I am no avid historian and have read only a few books containing any history of India. Even though I lack the historical background of India, I found the book easy to read and follow. Basically I read it in 2 days and found the information that the authors presented to be fascinating. I felt as if I was standing there watching the whole thing unfold in front of my eyes. In addition, I was able to perceive the physical sensation of the characters written within the pages. It takes a very special history book to keep my attention span going and this book did the trick. Most history books take me a month to finish.
So overall, I enjoyed the book and if you are a person that has no direction or sense of history, you, my friend, will enjoy it as well. The only thing that I regret was not reading this information prior to seeing the Taj in 2002. If I did, I would have had a better feeling of what it represented than being just a silly tourist making a checklist on all the famous places that I have visited. Oh well...
Read it. I guarantee that you will enjoy it!
11 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen portrait of a world icon and the human landscape behind it 11. April 2007
Von Vicki Leon - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
initially I was interested in this book because a decade ago, I'd written about Mumtaz Mahal, the woman for whom the Taj was built. I was amazed at the book's insights. One in particular moved me--it showed how Shah Jahan publicly revealed his deep grief over his wife's death. By going public, he broke the rules of Indian society by showing his feelings in such a manner--considered signs of weakness in a man, especially a ruler. But this book took on even more meaning after taking a recent 3-week trip to India. In the Preston book, I'd read how uncounted thousands of laborers, men and women, had built the foundations of the Taj with little besides their hands. That seemed hard to believe. But in Agra and other places, I was astonished to see women and men doing repair work on grand monuments like the Taj, moving stones in baskets, carrying loads of excavated earth upon their heads--exactly as described in the Preston book. Since I collect books, I like those that cover a topic well and give me unusual facts, too. From this one, I found out something I'd always wanted to know: that the backwards swastika seen everywhere in India represents the way the cosmos spreads outward in four directions. Cool. Being a nonfiction writer myself, I know what a challenge it is to tackle a popular topic that, one would think, has been "done to death." The Prestons have risen to the challenge and succeeded brilliantly.
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Makes the History Clear 18. Februar 2008
Von Loves the View - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
This book is the story of the family behind the Taj Mahal. If you are interested in the actual monument, its design and construction, you will have to do with about 50 pages. I got this book at the public library, so I was able to browse it, and the history was I was looking for. Otherwise, I would have been disappointed.

The Prestons give not only an understandable, but also a readable account of this brutal family history. The sketch of the love story is well known, but not how Shah Jahan lost favor of his father, in some part due to his father's love and dependence on one of this late in life wives. Most, probably, do not know the fate of the children of these famous lovers, nor that Shah Jahan died imprisoned by one of them within view of this monument.

One can only marvel on how Mumtaz Mahal traveled with her husband in war, and exile, constantly pregnant and bearing 14 children. Perhaps, as their family history suggests, she was the only one with whom he could confide and trust. They had a lasting sexual attraction despite his easy access to others and her continual pregnancies. They had shared extreme ups and downs. She may have been the only constant (later fulfilled by their eldest daughter) in his brutal and unstable world.

The Prestons note the other mausoleums built for and by these Moghul rulers, none of which approach this in style and size. As I write this, the Food Channel has a competition of chocolate sculptors making a model of this incredible structure.
4 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Highly recommended 10. April 2007
Von H. Bud - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This is a wonderful book, beautifully written and presented with fine illustrations. I started reading the book on my return from a business trip in India and found that the perspective the book provided on the Moghul empire helped me understand the beauty of their art and architecture. The Taj Mahal is the highlight of the Moghul art and architecture . The book helps the reader understand the context in which this building was created. I highly recommend this book.
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