John Zubrzycki is the author of The Last Nizam. He is also an award-winning journalist whose long association with India has included stints as a Hindi student, diplomat, consultant and foreign correspondent. He is the world commentary editor at the Australian newspaper and lives in Sydney.
The scandal that rocked the Raj
IIn 1891, a notorious curio-dealer from Simla offered to sell the world‰۪s largest brilliant-cut diamond to the Nizam of Hyderabad. If the audacious deal came through, the merchant would have been set up for life. But the transaction went horribly wrong. The Nizam accused him of fraud, triggering a sensational trial in the Calcutta High Court that made headlines around the world.
The dealer was Alexander Malcolm Jacob, a man of mysterious origins and colourful infamy. He was India‰۪s most successful purveyor of precious stones and was rumoured to be ‰Û÷rich almost beyond the dreams of Aladdin‰۪. Hailed as a celebrity in his own lifetime, he was the inspiration for the shadowy Lurgan Sahib in Rudyard Kipling‰۪s Kim.åÊA confidant of viceroys and maharajahs, he dabbled in magic and was a player in the Great Game. Yet he died in obscurity, carrying many of his secrets to his grave.
In this meticulously researched account of Jacob‰۪s life, John Zubrzycki reconstructs events through long-lost letters, court records and annotations on secret files, bringing us a riveting study of a man whose obituary in a leading daily fittingly described him as the most ‰Û÷romantic and arresting figure in our time‰۪.