The great-great-great grandson of Tamerlane, the great Mongol ruler of Samarkand who defeated the Ottomans in 1402, Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur Mirza (1483-1530)better known as Babur Padishawas the last Timurid of Central Asia and the first Mughal Emperor of India. In the Baburnama, Babur, a descendant of Genghis Khan and a refined, educated, and well-travelled prince, left behind an unparalled memoir of his life and timesthe central document most often quoted by historians and scholars of Mughal India.
Now, Wheeler M. Thackston, Jr., has provided a sparkling new translation of this intimate and truthful record in an exquisitely illustrated and produced edition that faithfully preserves the spirit and beauty of the original work. Translated directly from Babur's Chaghatay Turkish, here is not only an extraordinarily detailed picture of life in Central Asia and India during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, but also the first real autobiography in Islamic literature, in which Babur provides keen insights into his own personality, frank assessments of the deeds and motivations of the people with whom he dealt, and keys to understanding the rise and development of Islamic culture. Readers will note, for example, that the interests Babur so eloquently expresses in his memoirshis profound curiousity about the natural world and human personalitiesalso defined the directions that the artists of his time were to follow. This engrossing account is made all the more valuable by its rarity: to have a ruler's perspective on the events to which he is central is extremely unusual in the medieval Islamic world, particularly in an age like Babur's, which saw violent and major dynastic changes throughout Iran, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.
An insightful look into a particularly stimulating period in the world's history, Baburnama will garner accolades from historians, students and scholars of the Islamic world, and anyone who loves a good story.
Thackston's work is the first English translation in 70 years of Babur's candid 16th-century autobiography-the earliest known autobiography in Islamic literature. Babur, one of the most significant figures in Indo-Islamic history, was descended from Timur (known in the West as Tamerlane). During the 15th century, Timurid influence on eastern Islamic art and architecture was incalculable. Driven from Timurid lands in eastern Iran and central Asia, Babur established a new domain in northern India. One of Babur's Mogul descendants would build the Taj Majal. Thackston's richly illustrated translation is extremely readable and straightforward; it captures the spirit of one of the most attractive figures in Islamic history. Highly recommended for academic libraries and for larger public libraries with reader interest in this area.-Robert Andrews, Duluth P.L., Minn.