India's lost emperor Ashoka Maurya has a special place in history. In his quest to govern India by moral force alone he turned Buddhism from a minor sect into a world religion, and set up a new yardstick for government. But Ashoka's bold experiment ended in tragedy and he was forgotten for almost two thousand years.
In this beautifully written, multi-layered journey Charles Allen describes how fragments of the Ashokan story were gradually discovered, pieced together by a variety of British Orientalists: antiquarians, archaeologists and epigraphists. In doing so, they did much to recover India's ancient history itself. The Lost Emperor tells the story of the man who was arguably the greatest ruler India has ever known.
In his quest to govern India by moral force alone, India's lost emperor Ashoka Maurya turned Buddhism from a minor sect into a world religion and set up a new yardstick for government which had huge implications for Asia. But his brave experiment ended in tragedy and his name was cleansed from the record so effectively that he was forgotten for almost two thousand years. Yet a few mysterious stone monuments and inscriptions survived, and the story of how these keystones to the past were discovered and deciphered is every bit as remarkable as their author himself. In this fascinating book, India's ancient history is rediscovered.
'A thrilling book which reads like a mystery novel . . . Read this and you will see how absorbing history can be' Lord Meghnad Desai, author of Rediscovery of India
'Like an explorer in a jungle, stripping away the foliage from a long-forgotten city, Charles Allen brings to light the most extraordinary ruler in Indian history' Tom Holland, author of Rubicon
'A labour of love and notable scholarship, Charles Allen's Ashoka is a fitting testament to a forgotten epic of discovery . . . All who relish India's antiquity should read this book' John Keay