The Maratha empire that Chhatrapati Shivaji established in 1680 passed into the hands of the Peshwas in the 18th century. The empire, which spanned across large parts of Western, Central and Northern India, suffered a severe setback when the Marathas lost the third battle of Panipat to Ahmad Shah Abdali in 1761. The then Peshwa, Nanasaheb Balaji Bajirao, could not recover from the humiliation of his defeat and the devastating loss of his eldest son Vishwasrao and younger brother Sadashivrao, and soon passed away.
When the sixteen-year-old Madhavrao succeeded Nanasaheb, he was met with empty coffers, a royal court fraught with internal dis- sensions, and an uncle, Raghunathrao, raring to usurp his throne. He set about resurrecting the empire while keeping the Nizam of Hyderabad and the East India Company at bay. Not only did he revive its lost glory and pride, but also widened its boundaries.
Ranjit Desai’s The Fourth Peshwa tells the story of a frail young man who was compelled to prematurely step into his father’s shoes, but who rose to the occasion. Now into its 34th edition in Marathi, this is an absolute classic all fans of historical fiction ought to have on their shelves.
The Fourth Peshwa by Ranjit Desai
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