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.