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Andrew Duff's discovery of family connections with Sikkim leads him into uncovering the history of one of the small states caught up in the politics of Empire, eventually subsumed into the Indian nation. The idea of Shangri-La colours our view of the Himalayan nations but beneath the magic and the mystery is a tale of mixed marriage, dwindling national power and helplessness in the face of global events. In revealing this nation's story, Andrew Duff is also revealing the process of change, how contentious borders, nationhood, tribal and religious differences are still at work, fracturing nations and cultures today. ~ Sue Baker
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This is the true story of Sikkim, a tiny Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas that survived the end of the British Empire only to be annexed by India in 1975.It tells the remarkable tale of Thondup Namgyal, the last King of Sikkim, and his American wife, Hope Cooke, thrust unwittingly into the spotlight as they sought support for Sikkim's independence after their 'fairytale' wedding in 1963. As tensions between India and China spilled over into war in the Himalayas, Sikkim became a pawn in the Cold War in Asia during the 1960s and 1970s. Rumours circulated that Hope was a CIA spy. Meanwhile, a shadowy Scottish adventuress, the Kazini of Chakung, married to Sikkim's leading political figure, coordinated opposition to the Palace. As the world's major powers jostled for regional supremacy during the early 1970s Sikkim and its ruling family never stood a chance. On the eve of declaring an Emergency across India, Indira Gandhi outwitted everyone to bring down the curtain on the 300 year-old Namgyal dynasty.Based on interviews and archive research, as well as a retracing of a journey the author's grandfather made in 1922, this is a thrilling, romantic and informative glimpse of a real-life Shangri-La.
Sikkim was a mysterious kingdom tucked up on the geographical and political fault line where India bumps into China. It was a tiny sliver of land amidst the Himalayas, but its geography leant it importance above and beyond its physical size. Ruled by a long-forgotten Buddhist elite and a line of obscure monarchs, the kingdom somehow navigated its way through the upheaval of war, the collapse of empires, and turmoil and revolution in neighbouring lands. Its luck eventually ran out and Thondup, the last king, or Chogyal, endured an unhappy reign, enlivened by a marriage to an American socialite, before the kingdom was fractured and then absorbed by India. It is a tale in the mould of John Buchan, of adventures on the North East frontier, of ancient Asian traditions coming up against often bumbling western interference, and of the unhappy life of the last in the line of happy monarchs.
'Andrew Duff's book is a remarkable piece of detective work. In addition to the fascinating human stories Duff relates, the book is a very valuable addition to how the Cold War played out in South Asia, and to the history of the foreign policies of China, India and the US ... that it is exceptionally well-written makes it all the more compelling to read' - Michael Burleigh, author of Small Wars, Faraway Places
'A masterly and accessible account ... superbly researched, with sources ranging from Scottish missionary teachers' letters to classified US intelligence records and packed full of extraordinary characters straight out of a James Bond novel. The book has great relevance to today 's Asia; anyone with an interest in India and China's complex relationship should read this enthralling book' - Prajwal Parajuly, author of The Gurkha's Daughter'
Publication date: 01/05/2015
Publisher: Birlinn Ltd an imprint of Birlinn General
|Publication date:||1st May 2015|
|Publisher:||Birlinn Ltd an imprint of Birlinn General|
|Genres:||Biography / Autobiography, eBook Favourites, Travel,|
|Categories:||Asian history, Classic travel writing,|
Andrew Duff is a freelance journalist based in London and Scotland who writes on India and related subjects. In the UK his work has appeared in The Times, The Financial Times and the Sunday Telegraph, and in India in the Times of India and the India Quarterly. He travels frequently in India and East Asia.More About Andrew Duff