16th September, 2021 / 11:00 - 12:00
12th November, 2015
Andrew Duff’s new book (Birlinn Ltd, 2015) chronicles the last days 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 maintaining 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 stood little chance of holding on to their independent state. On the eve of declaring an Emergency across India, Indira Gandhi finally succeeding in acquiring the tiny kingdom, bringing down the curtain on the 300 year-old Namgyal dynasty. Based on interviews and archive research, this is a thrilling, romantic and informative glimpse of a real-life Shangri-La.
Andrew Duff is an author and freelance journalist based in London and Scotland. In the UK his work has appeared in The Times, The Financial Timesand The Sunday Telegraph, and in India in the Times of India and the India Quarterly. He travels frequently in India and East Asia.