This is the first book-length account of the West by an Indian. Mirza Sheikh I’tesamuddin, a munshi who had served the East India Company before becoming a Mughal courtier, was entrusted by Emperor Shah Alam II with a diplomatic mission to the British Court. He set sail in January 1766, and though the mission was aborted, the journey of nearly three years resulted in a remarkable memoir. Written in Persian, ‘Shigurf Nama-e-Vilayet’ or ‘Wonderful Tales about Europe’ is a unique historical document and a vastly entertaining travel narrative. Though never published in the original, an abridged and flawed English translation appeared in 1827. This book is the first complete English version. The Mirza was enchanted by Britain, but he was not a colonial subject. A highly educated and curious observer of alien cultures, he wrote about his visits to the theatre, the circus, freak shows, the ‘madrassah of Oxford’, the Scottish Highlands and at a more serious level the factors that had led to India’s decline and Europe’s ascendancy, and the socio-political system of Britain.