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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  166 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Kathmandu is the greatest city of the Himalayas; a unique survival of cultural practices that died out in India a thousand years ago. It is a carnival of sexual licence 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.

Closed to the outside
Hardcover, 463 pages
Published September 8th 2014 by Random House India (first published September 4th 2014)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  166 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-nepal, for-keeps
This book is the perfect tribute to the City of Gods; Kathmandu.

A fantastic read that sketches the city from its historical documented and fabled ambiguities tracing through alleys, shrines, chowks and traversing through unnamed streets that are testament to culture, rituals and the unveiling of the social revolution of Kathmandu’s civilization and bygone architecture to its now chaos of a modern concrete metropolis. The book is a kaleidoscope to the evolution of the City encompassed in the
Michal Thoma
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recent book on Kathmandu written by the Britisher living in the country since 2002 is yet again one of the important source of information for anyone who interested in Katmandu and Nepal.

The book consist of 3 interwined narrative lines. The first one is following the history of Kathmandu from it's legendary roots to today building boom, the second follows the Maoist revolution and political transformation during last decade and in the last the book follows personal life of the author and his
Samuel Peck
Meandering and messy writing full of disparate passages. Frustrating to read.
Sairam Krishnan
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
There’s a blurb from William Dalrymple on the back of the large, blue hardcover of Thomas Bell’s Kathmandu. It says that the book is ‘splendidly eccentric and enjoyable’, which it is. But as I read this book, having now forgotten the blurbs and the recommendations that led me to it, I constantly found in it connections to Dalrymple’s portrait of Delhi, City of Djinns. For one, the gaze is similar. Both Dalrymple, when he wrote the book, and Tom Bell, as he lives in Kathmandu, are young, ...more
Niraj Shah
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Thomas Bell did a very good job on capturing the history and present day reality of this city. The complexity and hard hitting reality well told.
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
An amazing study of Kathmandu, blending strands of history, religion, travel writing and reporting during the Mao insurgency. Highly readable and recommended.
Nallasivan V.
Dec 19, 2018 rated it liked it
It is a solid book as far as colonial-era history goes. But therein lies its problems. Nepal was never directly under British rule. It fought a war in the 1810s but Britain had far less influence on Nepal as it had on India. Thomas Bell pays too much attention to Western bits of history of Nepal and leaves very little room for contemporary history of Kathmandu and Nepal.

To add to this strange bias, he seems to read too much into the culture shocks and quirks that westerners experience when they
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-library
Amazing work. Thomas has beautifully woven the intricate details of history till present time in a simple and interesting way. This can serve as a guidebook to anyone who is interested in Kathmandu (as well as Nepal in entirety) no matter from which background.
Venky Iyer
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is not really a novel, but it is. It is not really a travel book, but it is. It is not really an autobiography, but it is –one that is dedicated to a relatively small but major part of the author’s life. And yes, a small but major part of the life of the country he writes about. Nepal.

Whatever it is, it was pleasurable reading for me, because it was all about Kathmandu and Nepal, and at least to my biased eyes, the author seems to share my love for that city and that country, Himalayan
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is many things --a survey history covering more than 1000 years, a polemic about the ills of international development and a story about CIA intrigue. It made me want to learn more about Nepal's recent history, especially the Panchayat and Maoist periods. Though the author is a journalist, some of his reporting (on international development, for example) seems weakly researched. I wasn't impressed by his writing either. However, if you want a meatier account Nepal's history than ...more
Sep 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Very good but meandering collection of journal entries by a British longtime resident and journalist. The overall picture of Nepal's contradictions across culture, history, and modern events is helpful but seems quite random once the entire tome is taken in. I definitely felt echoes articulated in reading it while in Nepal though.
Ale Nastase
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
The narrative style is confusing and hard to follow. It looks like a random collection of memories. I am sure it could be a great book with some additional editing (condensation and organisation specifically).
Jul 31, 2015 rated it liked it
If this book was well edited, given a couple of more revisions and restructured, this could easily be a 5 star book.

The author is well informed, perceptive, and a competent critical thinker so every chapter has something interesting that you can glean about KTM, if you don't trip over the organization. However, Bell keeps shifting his writing style and it can become disorienting. A chapter will break and start a new though absent context so you are jarred back into reality, aware that you are
John Snowden
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how this book would read to people unfamiliar with Kathmandu, but as an ex-pat's perspective on life in Kathmandu is very resonant for me from the opening preface onward. It brings a really great historical perspective on how history feeds into now, and adds a lot of nuance to the few key historical factoids that are widely "known" to the ex-pat community.

The importance of this book though for people like me is that for people trying to work here in Kathmandu for various NGO's,
James Hekel
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was the best book on Kathmandu that I have ever read. I have, in the past, bought a three volume set of history books about Nepal, but I never read them. Mr. Bell has. And he integrates this research, a lot of leg work, and quite a bit of serendipity into this single volume. It also helps that I have spent about two years in Nepal, part of which overlapped some of Mr. Bell's timeline.

I tried to read this book as slowly as I could manage because I did not want it to end. I was very happy to
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I hate to be "that guy" and say "like James Joyce's Dublin" but I will have to be "that guy". This was as amazing of a telling of a city as I have ever read. It is not fiction. It is history. It is autobiography. It is the tale of his quest to learn everything about his new home, and it is an attempt to do so as completely as is possible. It is a walk through a massive and quickly changing culture at a time when it has been changing the most. It is a moving picture. It is a love affair with a ...more
Asim Shrestha
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very nice and captivating read. Beautifully interwoven concoction of history, culture, conflicts, politics. Takes you on a wonderful journey through the alleys,chowks during ancient Malla periods to the remote villages during Maoist conflicts. It tells legacy of the city and it's transformation to modernization. Always nice to read about things you are accustomed to, events you had been through and things you see on a regular basis.
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books on Nepal that I've come across! Tom writes in an accessible way about a complex history, interweaving current day characters and his own personal narrative seamlessly. I learned a lot, was refreshed by his honest assessments and respect all of the research that went into the book!
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Interesting political context to a complicated, congested cityscape. The writing was informative, but difficult to read due to the disorganized nature of the book (although this does mirror the nature of the city itself).
Andrew Rajan
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm a slow reader, what can I say? Been busy writing though.
Very good, very interesting insight.
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
This was educational; however, I decided not to finish it after reading about 2/3rds of it.
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Did not like the book, neither a story nor a non-fiction - more like a collection of random observations.
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Oct 02, 2016
rated it it was ok
Feb 16, 2016
Dipankar Basnet
rated it it was amazing
Nov 30, 2018
Ashley Sutton
rated it it was amazing
Jan 11, 2019
rated it it was ok
Sep 16, 2017
Veronika Horvath
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Nov 02, 2017
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Jun 13, 2019
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