Nepal emerged as a unified state over 200 years ago, centred on the Kathmandu Valley with its 2000 years of urban civilisation. While John Whelpton’s history focuses on the period since the overthrow of the Rana family autocracy in 1950–1, the early chapters are devoted to the origins of the kingdom and the evolving relations of its diverse peoples. By drawing on recent research on Nepal’s environment, society and political institutions from the earliest times, the author portrays a country of extraordinary contrasts, which has been constantly buffeted through history 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 represents the first widely available one-whole span of nepalese history to appear for over a generation. Its comprehensive and accessible approach will appeal to students, professionals and those visiting the region for the first time.
John Whelpton, who works as a teacher in Hong Kong, is a historian and linguist. He has worked and travelled extensively in Nepal and has written numerous articles and books on the country. 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).