"James Achilles Kirkpatrick was the British Resident at the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad when in 1798 he glimpsed Khair un-Nissa - "Most Excellent among Women"--The great-niece of the Nizam's prime minister and a direct descendant of the Prophet. Kirkpatrick had gone to India as an ambitious soldier in the army of the East India Company, eager to make his name in the conquest and subjection of the subcontinent. Instead, he fell in love with Khair and overcame many obstacles - not the least of which was the fact that she was locked away in purdah and engaged to a local nobleman - to marry her. Eventually, while remaining Resident, Kirkpatrick converted to Islam and, according to Indian sources, even became a double agent working for the Hyderabadis against the East India Company." "It is a remarkable story, involving secret assignations, court intrigue, harem politics, religious disputes, and espionage. But such things were not unknown: From the sixteenth century, when the Inquisition banned the Portuguese in Goa from wearing the dhoti, to the eve of the Indian Mutiny, the "white Mughals" who wore local dress and adopted Indian ways were a source of difficulty and embarrassment to successive colonial administrations. William Dalrymple has unearthed such colorful figures as "Hindoo Stuart," who traveled with his own team of Brahmins to maintain his templeful of idols and who spent many years trying to persuade the memsahibs of Calcutta to adopt the sari; and Sir David Ochterlony, Kirkpatrick's counterpart in Delhi, who took all thirteen of his Indian wives out for evening promenades, each on the back of her own elephant."--Jacket.