Since his first glimpse of the Taj Mahal shrouded by a pre-monsoon dust storm when he was a young boy in the 1960s, Sydney-based author and journalist. John Zubrzycki has been drawn to India for inspiration. After studying Hindi and Indian history at the Australian National University in the early 1980s, he travelled and worked extensively in India as a foreign correspondent, diplomat and consultant. He was the world commentary editor at The Australian newspaper in Sydney before leaving earlier this year to concentrate on writing, research and web-related projects. He is also the Australian correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor newspaper. Previously he served as a diplomat in Jakarta and taught politics at the Australian National University. As a journalist, he has reported from the Pacific, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Europe.
In 2007 he published The Last Nizam: The Rise and Fall of India’s Greatest Princely State (Picador), about the life of Mukarram Jah who in the 1970s carved out a kingdom among the kangaroos and acacias of Western Australia, only to see his vast fortune turn to dust. The book was a bestseller in Australia and in India where it is still in print. His latest book The Mysterious Mr Jacob: Diamond Merchant, Magician and Spy (Random House) tells the story of Alexander Malcolm Jacob, one of the most extraordinary and enigmatic figures of the Raj. A confidant of viceroys and maharajahs, he was India’s most successful purveyor of precious stones, the most famous magician of his day and a player in the Great Game.