From Publishers Weekly
On the list of unclaimed bank accounts the Swiss Bankers Association published in 1997, one leapt out at British journalist Campbell. It belonged to an Indian princess, the deceased daughter of Maharajah Duleep Singh, the last king of the Punjab, spiritual home of the Sikhs. When the British Empire annexed the territory in 1849, Singh, a small child then, was forced to turn over his wealth (including the famed Koh-i-Noor diamond) and his kingdom. Brought to England, he converted to Christianity, charmed Queen Victoria (she later became godmother to Singh's son) and led the life of an English country gentleman. In middle age, however, spurred by a prophecy, he sought to reclaim his throne. He abandoned his family and set off on an ill-fated mission to overthrow the British government in India, cultivating along the way an international conspiracy whose players ran the gamut from Irish revolutionaries to Russian ultranationalists. While the depth of research devoted to Singh's troubled life is commendable, Campbell includes so much archival material that he further confuses what is already a complex and murky tale, and sometimes buries the maharajah beneath the load of information. Occasional authorial intrusions and Campbell's failure to distinguish among the numerous foreign personalities further blur the narrative. While Singh's rebellious legend persists today in certain quarters, in the end, Campbell fails to make the reader truly care about this sad and rather obscure historical figure. 37 b&w photos.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Campbell retraces the extraordinary life of Maharajah Duleep Singh, last emperor of the Sikhs and King of the Punjab before it was annexed by the British in 1849. Intrigued by the discovery of an unclaimed Swiss bank account in the name of Singh's daughter Catherine in 1997, the author set out to discover what untold wealth the safe-deposit box might hold. During the course of his quest, he uncovered an even greater treasure: an intriguing tale of romance, conspiracy, and espionage. Hoping to regain his throne, Singh attempted to orchestrate an elaborate rebellion against England involving an intricate web of agents and stretching over several continents. Chock-full of spies, conspiracies, and forbidden passions, this virtuoso feat of historical detection reads like fiction. Margaret FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved