Tamerlane by Justin Marozzi


 Review of Book Club event of 16 May 2021
(Tamerlane by Justin Marozzi)

  • Review : By  soni Valecha  ( Accra, Ghana)

Latika Padgaonkar presented ‘Tamerlane’ by Justin Marozzi.
As Latika started, where I might have probably dozed off – it being post lunch here in Accra, Ghana – I immediately was drawn to her exquisite style of speaking. What a treat, the whole hour!

Latika’s enthusiasm for the subject came across amply, evoking interest in otherwise mildly interested attendees. Her engaging style mirrored Marozzi’s, rendered in a very enthralling manner. Marozzi has tried to present a balanced view of Temur Lane, trying to undo the damage caused where Temur was portrayed as a bloodthirsty adventurer going through cities, ruthlessly decimating populations, resurrecting him as a benevolent man after the Russians had wiped his name from History books.

Temur is shown here as a patron of the Arts, his philanthropic activities are listed, his generosity towards his soldiers as well as a strategic empire builder and conqueror.
Marozzi paints pictures with his words, conveying the beauty of what was Samarkand before it was repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt. After it was destroyed by Genghis Khan, it became the capital of the empire of Tamerlane, who made the city the most important economic and cultural centre in Central Asia. It was the stuff of tales brought by travelers with mystic qualities with its gardens, the buildings and the people. Storytelling at its best! Latika’s capacity to reel off foods, goods, jewels, places was very endearing. Brought it alive for me and I am sure for the rest of us as well. Marozzi tells us about his experience at the Mausoleum, the way he is shown one genealogy on the Tombstone and then is taken to the vault below for $ 200/- and sees a completely different one!
For me it was a stumbling point where my skepticism kicks in and says – Hang on! So what was the truth? We then talked at length about how history is written and wiped out and written again.

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Nityaasha Foundation