10 books like Koh-I-Noor

By William Dalrymple, Anita Anand,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Koh-I-Noor. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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11 Harrowhouse

By Gerald A. Browne,

Book cover of 11 Harrowhouse

I have a special fondness for 11 Harrowhouse, the 1973 thriller that spins the tale of a huge theft of rough diamonds from The System, a fictional London diamond powerhouse modeled on the real-life De Beers. When I started writing about diamonds, De Beers was still the Darth Vader of diamonds—all-powerful, feared, despotic. More than eighty percent of the world’s rough diamonds poured through its London headquarters at 17 Charterhouse Street. In the novel, thieves thread a hose from the roof into the diamond vault, and hoover up the loot. In reality, a different method was used to steal diamonds from De Beers’s London fortress, which I described in my non-fiction book, then re-tailored for my own purposes in The Russian Pink

11 Harrowhouse

By Gerald A. Browne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 11 Harrowhouse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An American courier and his lover are selected as the key operatives in an international diamond swindle


The Light of Day

By Eric Ambler,

Book cover of The Light of Day

Ok, it’s an old thriller set in the pre-Internet, pre-mobile phone, pre-EU world of the 1960s. It’s a piece of twentieth-century clockwork, but it delivers suspense! The amoral protagonist can’t summon help by phone or Google his adversaries to gain an advantage. He must work to gain leniency from the Turkish authorities by acting as a double agent, delivering weapons to a gang of potential terrorists so that he might spy on them. The writing has a sharp precision and crisp wit.

The Light of Day

By Eric Ambler,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Light of Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Arthur Abdel Simpson is a failed journalist and soon-to-be failed thief, embittered by memories of his unhappy childhood in England and eking out a living in Athens. When he spots a newly arrived tourist at the airport, he offers his services as a private driver and sees an easy chance to make some money by illicit means. But the out-matched Simpson soon finds himself embroiled in blackmail and driving a highly suspicious car to Istanbul. When he is stopped by the Turkish police, it seems his luck can't get any worse - but this is just the beginning . .…


To Catch A Thief

By David Dodge,

Book cover of To Catch A Thief

This is another great diamond yarn where the movie by Alfred Hitchcock is better known than the book. A series of high-end robberies is plaguing the French Riviera. Police suspect that retired jewel thief John “The Cat” Robie may not be as retired as he claims. They come to arrest him. Robie escapes. To prove his innocence, he persuades an insurance broker to give him a list of the wealthiest diamond owners on the Cote d’Azur, so he can intercept and apprehend the new “Cat” committing the robberies, and thus clear his name. On the list is a wealthy American, with whose daughter, played by Grace Kelly, Robie develops a romance. The plot plays out in the ravishing landscape, but the real message is the diamond industry’s favorite—that owning diamonds makes you part of a glamorous world.

To Catch A Thief

By David Dodge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Catch A Thief as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

TO CATCH A THIEF is David Dodge's most famous novel, and rightly so. Alfred Hitchcock firmly cinched its place in the annals of crime fiction by adapting it into an Academy Award winning film starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. The story centers on John Robie, American expatriate and skilled gymnast, who once-upon-a-time was Le Chat, the famous and elusive cat burglar who worked the South of France. The legend of Le Chat grew with each crime. Following the war, Robie retires to a quiet life in France and vows to leave his past behind. His retirement is shattered when…


Hope

By Marian Fowler,

Book cover of Hope: Adventures of a Diamond

Marian Fowler’s lavish non-fiction account tracks the storied diamond from its origins in India, where it was bought by the great French jewel merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, who sold it to Louis XIV. Weighing 110 carats in the rough, the blue was eventually cut into a heart-shaped jewel of 67.13 carats, known to history as the French Blue. In the turbulent early days of the French Revolution, all the crown jewels were moved from the Palace of Versailles to the Garde-Meuble, a treasure house in central Paris. On the night of September 11, 1792, thieves broke in and stole the jewels. Many were recovered, but the French Blue vanished forever. Too famous to be sold as it was, the London jeweler who eventually bought it, cut it down to 44.5 carats—the jewel sold to Henry Philip Hope in 1830. The Hope diamond passed through many hands, leaving behind a trail of…

Hope

By Marian Fowler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hope as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Allegedly a curse to those that own it, the Hope Diamond - a flawless blue diamond of over forty-five carats - has inspired centuries of legends and lies, fabulous superstition and fierce passion. In rich, shimmering prose, Marian Fowler explains how the Hope Diamond was formed in nature - and how it was taken from the mines and temples of India to the royal courts of seventeenth-century Europe. Acquired and cherished by Louis XIV, the stone was stolen in an almost farcical French Revolution robbery. It resurfaced twenty years later in London and passed through numerous hands, including those of…


Bugles and a Tiger

By John Masters,

Book cover of Bugles and a Tiger: My Life in the Gurkhas

John Masters grippingly tells of his life as a newly commissioned Subaltern in a Gurkha regiment, warts, and all. This book is especially valuable to new infantry platoon commanders, or anyone interested in the challenges of leading at the lowest levels. Masters is a consummate storyteller who takes the reader along with him in his personal journey of discovery as he learns about life, leadership, and the nature of war.

Bugles and a Tiger

By John Masters,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Bugles and a Tiger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first of John Master's evocative memoirs about life in the Gurkhas in India on the cusp of WWII

John Masters was a soldier before he became a bestselling novelist. He went to Sandhurst in 1933 at the age of eighteen and was commissioned into the 4th Gurkha Rifles in time to take part in some of the last campaigns on the turbulent north-west frontier of India.

John Masters joined a Gurhka regiment on receiving his commission, and his depiction of garrison life and campaigning on the North-West Frontier has never been surpassed. BUGLES AND A TIGER is a matchless…


The Man Who Knew Infinity

By Robert Kanigel,

Book cover of The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan

I think the life and the work of Ramanujan is the most astonishing story of any mathematician. Everybody knows that 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + ... adds to 1. Ramanujan wrote down infinite series like that but of amazing complexity. He was a self-taught and unknown genius in India, who found his way to England. His ideas are still being explored and developed— they go to the heart of mathematics. This book and the movie are simply inspiring.

The Man Who Knew Infinity

By Robert Kanigel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Man Who Knew Infinity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STARRING JEREMY IRONS AND DEV PATEL!

A moving and enlightening look at the unbelievable true story of how gifted prodigy Ramanujan stunned the scholars of Cambridge University and revolutionized mathematics.

In 1913, a young unschooled Indian clerk wrote a letter to G H Hardy, begging the preeminent English mathematician's opinion on several ideas he had about numbers. Realizing the letter was the work of a genius, Hardy arranged for Srinivasa Ramanujan to come to England.

Thus began one of the most improbable and productive collaborations ever chronicled. With a passion for rich and evocative detail,…


Sharpe's Tiger

By Bernard Cornwell,

Book cover of Sharpe's Tiger

This prequel to the Sharpe series covers the eponymous hero’s adventures in India at the siege of Seringapatam before the Peninsular War. For me, Cornwell’s books are a perfect mix of history and breathless action. This one even features a cameo from Wellington. If only they’d let me read this in history at school, I might have stayed awake more often. Cornwell pays great attention to historical detail, and if he messes with it, he does it deliberately. There are sumptuous palaces, epic battle scenes, rockets exploding, and people getting eaten by tigers. There’s also the deliciously nasty Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill. What’s not to love? 

Sharpe's Tiger

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Sharpe's Tiger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*The brand new novel, SHARPE'S ASSASSIN, is available to pre-order now*

Sharpe's Tiger is the brilliant beginning of Sharpe's adventures

India, 1799

The citadel of Seringapatam is under siege. Navigating this dangerous kingdom of bejewelled palaces and poverty, Private Richard Sharpe embarks on a rescue mission to save a senior officer from the clutches of the Tippoo of Mysore - and oust the Sultan from his throne.

The fortress of Mysore is considered impregnable, but one of the greatest threats comes from betrayal within the British ranks. And the man to outwit enemies from both sides is Sharpe . .…


For All the Tea in China

By Sarah Rose,

Book cover of For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire, and the Secret Formula for the World's Favourite Drink

I am a total tea-head, so any book about the history of how we all came to be addicts is a good start. This one is particularly gripping and reads like an adventure novel. Robert Fortune, a Scottish botanist, and industrial spy, was employed by the East India Company in 1848 to be smuggled into China and steal their tea-growing secrets. The book never flags, full of information about the opium wars, the Chelsea Physic garden and how the tea, later found to grow naturally in India, was made into a consumer product garnering enormous profits. As I grew up with a family member who disappeared to work in Assam tea gardens just before I was born, I have always been fascinated by this way of life.

For All the Tea in China

By Sarah Rose,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked For All the Tea in China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Robert Fortune was a Scottish gardener, botanist, plant hunter - and industrial spy. In 1848, the East India Company engaged him to make a clandestine trip into the interior of China - territory forbidden to foreigners - to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea.

For centuries, China had been the world's sole tea manufacturer. Britain purchased this fuel for its Empire by trading opium to the Chinese - a poisonous relationship Britain fought two destructive wars to sustain. The East India Company had profited lavishly as the middleman, but now it was sinking, having lost its monopoly to trade…


Inglorious Empire

By Shashi Tharoor,

Book cover of Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India

This is a polemic and pretends to be none other but it serves as an antidote to the apologists of Empire. Why is it needed? You can’t read the Ibis trilogy and not understand the exploitation of the East India Company. The first war of independence (1857) failed and was brutally put down. There were attempts at reform and not all legacies of the Raj are regrettable, my Victorian maverick works on the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India. But the tendency in the UK is to highlight the positives and ignore the racism, the famines, the massacres, and the horrors of the manner in which we left India. Once readers know the consequences of the Raj, they will understand the origins of South Asian immigration to the UK and will get a glimpse of how others see us, warts and all. 

Inglorious Empire

By Shashi Tharoor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Inglorious Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller on India's experience of British colonialism, by the internationally-acclaimed author and diplomat Shashi Tharoor

'Tharoor's impassioned polemic slices straight to the heart of the darkness that drives all empires ... laying bare the grim, and high, cost of the British Empire for its former subjects. An essential read' Financial Times

In the eighteenth century, India's share of the world economy was as large as Europe's. By 1947, after two centuries of British rule, it had decreased six-fold. The Empire blew rebels from cannon, massacred unarmed protesters, entrenched institutionalised racism, and caused millions to die…


Mr. Smith Goes to China

By Jessica Hanser,

Book cover of Mr. Smith Goes to China: Three Scots in the Making of Britain's Global Empire

This is a jewel of a book. It takes a strange coincidence and weaves it into a wonderful tale of world history. It explores the lives of three Scotsmen, all called George Smith but not related, who traded in Asia during the eighteenth century, a crucial time for the development of the East India Company and ties between East and West. It really opens a window into the lives of these pioneers and brings this neglected history alive. In particular, it complicates the usual story of the East India Company by showing how it was a force for stability in trade with China and it was the ‘free traders’ taking inspiration from people like the economist Adam Smith back in London, who upset the relations and created the conditions for the nineteenth-century Opium War.

Mr. Smith Goes to China

By Jessica Hanser,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mr. Smith Goes to China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An illuminating account of global commerce in the eighteenth-century Indian Ocean world as seen through the lives of three Scottish traders

This book delves into the lives of three Scottish private traders-George Smith of Bombay, George Smith of Canton, and George Smith of Madras-and uses them as lenses through which to explore the inner workings of Britain's imperial expansion and global network of trade, revealing how an unstable credit system and a financial crisis ultimately led to greater British intervention in India and China.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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