The Downfall of India's Princely States

Hurst Publishers
John Zubrzycki
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The dramatic true story of the betrayal of hundreds of Indian princely states by both the departing British and the new Congress government. In July 1947, India’s last Viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, stood before New Delhi’s Chamber of Princes to deliver the most important speech of his career. He had just three weeks to convince over 550 sovereign princely states — some tiny, some the size of Britain — to become part of a free India.

Once Britain’s most faithful allies, the princes could choose between joining India or Pakistan, or declaring independence. This is a saga of intrigue, brinkmanship and broken promises, wrought by Mountbatten and two of independent India’s founding fathers: the country’s most senior civil servant, V.P. Menon, and Congress strongman Vallabhbhai Patel. What India’s architects described as a ‘bloodless revolution’ was anything but, as violence engulfed Kashmir and Indian troops crushed Hyderabad’s dreams of independence.

Most princes accepted the inevitable, exchanging their power for guarantees of privileges and titles in perpetuity. But these dynasties were still led to extinction — not by the sword, but by political expediency —l eaving them with little more than fading memories of a glorified past.

‘[A] gripping history – exhaustively researched, and written with all the pace and tension of a thriller – of how the fate of the princely states would be determined in the face of independence and Partition.’ — The Telegraph

Dethroned is set to become a classic on the end of India’s and Pakistan’s aristocracy.’ — The Spectator

‘Journalistic flair shines through in Dethroned.‘ — The Week

Contributor Bio

John Zubrzycki PhD has worked in India as a foreign correspondent and diplomat. His previous books with Hurst are The House of Jaipur; and Empire of Enchantment, chosen by William Dalrymple as a Book of the Year. He is also the author of The Shortest History of India.

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