Chasing the Mountain of Light: Across India on the Trail of the Koh-I-Noor Diamond

Kevin Rushby, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-22813-2
Rushby's interest in the ancient diamond trade was piqued after a chance meeting with a diamond smuggler in Ethiopia. Driven to unearth the history-drenched underbelly of the diamond trade, Rushby (Eating the Flowers of Paradise: A Journey Through the Drug Fields of Ethiopia and Yemen) treks across India in search of old gemstone mines and ancient accounts. Rushby isn't quite sure what he's looking for, but he narrows his focus to the fate of Koh-i-Noor, the world's largest diamond, from its origins circa 1000 B.C., when it was believed to be a gift from the Sun God, to its present home in the Tower of London. He seeks out unorthodox storytellers, be they miners, peasants, gem dealers, diplomats, gurus or Jesuit priests. Unfortunately, Rushby is limited to the stories told by those who speak English; he very eloquently describes the frustration of watching someone gesture and talk excitedly, only to receive a two-word translation from a jaded interpreter. However, Rushby's keen sense of humor and sharp eye more than compensate for this handicap. Acutely written, this meandering adventure will appeal equally to mystics, gemologists, historians and travelers. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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