Cover image for Massacre at the palace : the doomed royal dynasty of Nepal
Massacre at the palace : the doomed royal dynasty of Nepal
Gregson, Jonathan.
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Publication Information:
New York : Talk Miramax Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiv, 255 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
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DS493.4 .G74 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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A prophecy made by a divine sage to Nepal's first king foretold that his successors would reign for another ten generations, and no more. On June 1, 2001, when Crown Prince Dipendra opened fire on his family, killing his father -- the eleventh king of Nepal -- his mother, and his siblings, the prophecy came all too terribly true. Why did he do it? Had a thwarted passion motivated Dipendra or were the killings political? Did he act alone or were others involved?Author and journalist Jonathan Gregson, an authority on Nepal, tells a chilling tale of madness, love, and the struggle for power in this first full report on the tragedy. With unique access to members of the royal family and palace officials in Kathmandu, Gregson has written a stunning investigative account -- an intimate glimpse into a troubled monarchy and a nation in turmoil. He skillfully weaves historical precedents of age-old violence and trauma with pressures unique to twenty-first-century royalty struggling to reconcile ancient traditions and modernity.

Author Notes

Jonathan Gregson, born and raised in Calcutta, is an expert on Nepal and the Himalayan region. He has written for numerous publications including the Daily Telegraph; the Times; and Conde Nast Traveler

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

On June 1, 2001, Crown Prince Dipendra of Nepal shot and killed his father, mother, brother, sister and five other members of the royal family, including himself. For most observers, the massacre was an unfathomable atrocity. But as Gregson shows in this labyrinthine analysis of Nepal's monarchy, the catastrophe was wholly in keeping with the family's bloody history. The Shah dynasty first consolidated power over Nepal in the late 1700s, and the succeeding generations saw courtly intrigues, exiles, executions and palace bloodbaths (including the 1846 Kot Massacre, in which over 30 aristocrats and extended royalty perished). More than one junior queen was forced to perform sati (ritual immolation) so that she could not provide an alternate line of heirs to the throne. The weight of this tortured ancestry, Gregson maintains, came fully to bear on Prince Dipendra. Prohibited from marrying the woman he loved, he became increasingly frustrated and infatuated with alcohol, hashish and guns; eventually he decided to destroy his "dysfunctional family" with a shotgun and an M-16. Gregson, a British journalist born and raised in Calcutta, knows his subject well. Unfortunately, many readers will find themselves lost in the first half of the book, which meticulously tracks 200 years of obscure dynastic politics. The concluding sections are more intelligible and dramatic, however, especially the massacre scene itself. Overall, this is a fine resource for anyone with a serious interest in a terrible royal tragedy. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In the early days of the Shah dynasty in Nepal, it was prophesied that the Shahs would rule for only ten generations. On June 1, 2001, Crown Prince Dipendra shot his father (Nepal's 11th king), mother, siblings, and five other relatives before killing himself. Gregson (Kingdom Beyond the Clouds: Journeys in Search of the Himalayan Kings), an authority on Nepal, brings his insider knowledge and expertise to the question of how the family came to such a violent end. He traces the history of the Shah dynasty, from its first warlord king to its current uncertain future, and details the politics of a constitutional monarchy whose kings were revered as gods but effectively prohibited from ruling and the strange inheritance structure that led family members to murder each other regularly throughout history. The author also explores the political machinations that cost many royal family members their lives through the ages. This is an intriguing story, but, unfortunately, the text is dry and academic, even when covering such sensational ground. Best suited to academic collections on Nepalese history. Deirdre Bray Root, Middletown P.L., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Shooting Catsp. ix
1 Of Cows and Kingsp. 1
2 A Country Called Nepalp. 19
3 The Regency Syndromep. 35
4 A House Dividedp. 51
5 The Century of Captivityp. 65
6 The Shamsher Supremacyp. 83
7 King Tribhuvan & Sonsp. 101
8 Heir Apparentp. 119
9 Behind Palace Wallsp. 137
10 Love and Marriagep. 153
11 Star-Crossed Loversp. 169
12 The Family Reunionp. 181
13 The Sounds of Silencep. 205
14 Laid to Rest?p. 227
15 A New Model Monarchyp. 241
Acknowledgmentsp. 255