This is an excellent history of Bhutan, politically and socially, from a young Indian journalist, who makes a complex region comprehensible The strongest discussion of Bhutan s history with the lhotshampas that I ve found. A Small, Sparsely Populated Kingdom At The Eastern End Of The Himalayas, Bhutan Is Often Described As One Of The Most Isolated Countries On Earth In This Unprecedented Portrait An Informed And Insightful Mix Of Political History And Travel Writing Omair Ahmad Shows That The Opposite, In Fact, Is True Located At The Intersection Of Several Political, Cultural And Religious Currents, Bhutan Has Been A Part Of, And Been Shaped By, Some Of The Most Transformative Events In Asian And World History Beginning With Padmasambhavas Epic Work To Establish Buddhism In The Himalayas, The Kingdom At The Centre Of The World Tells The Story Of Bhutans Emergence As An Independent Buddhist Nation In The Seventeenth Century Under The Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, Who Turned His Back On Tibet The Exploits Of Jigme Namgyal The Black Regent Who United Bhutan And Fought The Armies Of British India To A Standstill And The Remarkable Wangchuk Monarchs, Who Have Ruled Bhutan Since The Beginning Of The Twentieth Century Alongside, The Book Also Examines Events Around Bhutan That Have Affected It Profoundly The Rise And Fall Of Tibet And The Mongol And British Empires The Spread Of Nepali Origin People Across South Asia Sikkims Dramatic Loss Of Sovereignty And The Conflicting Territorial Ambitions Of India And China Most Fascinating Of All, The Book Argues That It Is In Bhutan , Perhaps, Than In Any Other Nation That Alternative Modes Of Governance And Progress Are Being Tested In An Increasingly Homogenized World As It Chooses Gross National Happiness GNH Over Gross National Product GNP , Grapples With A Complicated Refugee Crisis, Experiments With A Guided Democracy And Tries To Retain Its Cultural Heritage While It Opens Up To The World, Bhutan Could Have Important Lessons For Us All Having recently travelled to Bhutan and done my own research on the history as well as first hand account of locals, I took up this book for an easy read Found the book quite accurate on facts and very balanced in opinion Loved the narration, also context of Bhutan with respect to Tibet, sikkim, britishers and the Chinese was very helpful to learn the geo politics around the same time Must read, highly recommended.Bonus I related to the author s observation of rural Bhutanese love lost for following a queue. courtesy they never have to as bhutan is not a crowded place. This book gives you a lot of good information on Pre 1800 Bhutan, going over accounts of Songtsen Gampo s temple building, of the various Kagyu saints that traversed the area, and how Bhutan was connected to the modern world way sooner than we all think But it s main goal is to explain the Nepali crisis that began in the 90s and continues to this day To explain this, Ahmad s work is very well researched and his analysis is spot on Aside from this analysis, Ahmad s work is a lot like The Story of Tibet, it s a good primer on Bhutanese history but not very detailed until the 1800s. Good first read to begin to understand a little bit about the Himalayan kingdom, it s history and culture Omair Ahmad s The Kingdom at the Centre of the Word Journeys into Bhutan is an usual mix of historical book, travel journalism and political comment The genre changes within the book make it a bit harder to follow, but overall it is a nice glimpse into one of the most mysterious countries in the word.Ahmad definitely increased my interest in Bhutan and touched on all aspects that make this little Himalayan kingdom so fascinating.I hope I can follow the read up with a journey into Bhutan by myself. I like the book, as it is a relatively easy read I have long wanted to travel to Bhutan, and this book does a lot to give me a first understanding of the events that have shaped Bhutan It emerges from the mysteries, thanks to the deft handling by Omair Ahmad What you get is a sort of condensed history of the country What the book does not do, and this would have been really nice, is to have added the author s personal experiences while traveling in Bhutan, and to have woven his commentary around these experiences To me, this would have brought the book to life While the book may read as a summary of events, and in some way it does, it does a great service to us, who know very little about this country, and the pressures it has faced, especially in recent times, sandwiched as it is between India and China.A good read, a good first read into the shaping of Bhutan. It is but obvious that Bhutan as a country has fascinated so many of us through the ages So I jumped to order this book the moment I came across the title And I was not disappointed Such a coherent and remarkably objective narration of a country s history is something one rarely comes across in this genre of non fiction Bhutan is a very beautiful country indeed And it s outer surface may indeed boast of some kind of perfection But scratch it a bit and you come across some very interesting details Intriguing rather In what almost reads like a tale of fiction, the reader learns a lot about the nitty gritty that makes up this country Hats off to Omair Ahmad for his in depth research that led to this very enjoyable read.
Omair Ahmad was educated in Saudi Arabia, India and the US He has worked as a political adviser on Kashmir, national and international security and legislative issues, as well as working as a journalist in the US, the UK and India He is the author of The Storyteller s Tale, Sense Terra and Encounters.
- 240 pages
- Omair Ahmad
- 16 February 2017 Omair Ahmad