Nepal emerged as a unified state over two hundred years ago, centred on the Kathmandu Valley with its two thousand years of urban civilisation. While John Whelpton's history focuses on the period since the overthrow of the Rana family autocracy in 1950-51, the early chapters are devoted to the origins of the kingdom and the evolving relations of its diverse peoples. By drawing on research on Nepal's environment, society and political institutions, the author portrays a country of extraordinary contrasts, which has been constantly buffeted by its neighbours, the two Asian giants, China and India. Economic and political turmoil over the last fifty years came to a climax in the massacre of the royal family in 2001, when the country erupted into civil war. The book, first published in 2005, is comprehensive and its accessible approach will appeal to students, professionals and those visiting the region.
John Whelpton, who works as a teacher in Hong Kong, is an historian and linguist. He has worked and travelled extensively in Nepal, and has written numerous articles and books on the subject. These include People, Politics and Ideology: Democracy and Social Change in Nepal (1999, with the late Martin Hoftun and William Raeper), and Kings, Soldiers and Priests: Nepalese Politics and the Rise of Jang Bahadur Rana, 1830-1857 (1991).
List of illustrations; List of maps; List of tables; Key events; Acknowledgements; Notes on romanisation and terminology; List of abbreviations; Introduction; 1. Environment, state and society in the central Himalayas to 1743; 2. Unification and sanskritisation, 1743-1885; 3. Nepal under the Shamsher Ranas, 1885-1951; 4. The monarchy in ascendance: domestic politics and foreign relations, 1951-91; 5. The quest for 'development': economy and environment, 1951-91; 6. Lifestyles, values, identities: changes in Nepalese society, 1951-91; 7. Democracy and disillusionment: Nepal since 1991; Genealogical tables; Biographical notes; Notes; Glossary; Bibliography; Index.