Kathmandu is the greatest city of the Himalaya; a place where unique cultural practices that died out in India a thousand years ago have survived. It is a carnival of sexual license and hypocrisy, a jewel of world art, a hotbed of communist revolution, a paradigm of failed democracy, a case study in bungled Western intervention, and an environmental catastrophe.
Kathmandu’s rapid modernisation is an extreme version of what is happening in many traditional societies with the destabilising spirits of consumer aspiration, individuality, egalitarianism, communism and democracy. Erudite, entertaining and accessible, this is the fascinating chronicle of a unique city.
THOMAS BELL studied at Oxford and the Courtauld Institute of Art before moving to Kathmandu to cover the civil war in Nepal for the Daily Telegraph and The Economist.
Find Thomas on Twitter @BellThomasBell