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This book made history. It wasn’t banned, not quite, when it first appeared in 1984, but its disappearance was cleverly managed so that few got to read the only authentic account of how a protected kingdom became India’s twenty-second state. As the Hon. David Astor, editor of The Observer in London, wrote, Sunanda K. Datta-Ray was ‘alone in witnessing and communicating the This book made history. It wasn’t banned, not quite, when it first appeared in 1984, but its disappearance was cleverly managed so that few got to read the only authentic account of how a protected kingdom became India’s twenty-second state. As the Hon. David Astor, editor of The Observer in London, wrote, Sunanda K. Datta-Ray was ‘alone in witnessing and communicating the essential story’. He had to surmount many obstacles and incur severe disapproval to do so. Nearly thirty years later, a revised edition with the author’s long new introduction reads like an exciting thriller. Rich with dances and durbars, lamaist rituals, intrigue and espionage, it brings vividly to life the dramatis personae of this Himalayan drama—Sikkim’s sad last king, Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal, and his vivacious American queen, Hope Cooke; bumbling Kazi Lendhup Dorji and his scheming Kazini, whose nationality and even her name were shrouded in mystery, and who played into the hands of more powerful strategists. Citing documents that have not been seen by any other writer, the book analyses law and politics with masterly skill to recreate the Sikkim saga against the background of a twentieth-century Great Game involving India and China. Smash and Grab: Annexation of Sikkim didn’t only make history. It is history.ANNEXATION OF SIKKIM


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This book made history. It wasn’t banned, not quite, when it first appeared in 1984, but its disappearance was cleverly managed so that few got to read the only authentic account of how a protected kingdom became India’s twenty-second state. As the Hon. David Astor, editor of The Observer in London, wrote, Sunanda K. Datta-Ray was ‘alone in witnessing and communicating the This book made history. It wasn’t banned, not quite, when it first appeared in 1984, but its disappearance was cleverly managed so that few got to read the only authentic account of how a protected kingdom became India’s twenty-second state. As the Hon. David Astor, editor of The Observer in London, wrote, Sunanda K. Datta-Ray was ‘alone in witnessing and communicating the essential story’. He had to surmount many obstacles and incur severe disapproval to do so. Nearly thirty years later, a revised edition with the author’s long new introduction reads like an exciting thriller. Rich with dances and durbars, lamaist rituals, intrigue and espionage, it brings vividly to life the dramatis personae of this Himalayan drama—Sikkim’s sad last king, Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal, and his vivacious American queen, Hope Cooke; bumbling Kazi Lendhup Dorji and his scheming Kazini, whose nationality and even her name were shrouded in mystery, and who played into the hands of more powerful strategists. Citing documents that have not been seen by any other writer, the book analyses law and politics with masterly skill to recreate the Sikkim saga against the background of a twentieth-century Great Game involving India and China. Smash and Grab: Annexation of Sikkim didn’t only make history. It is history.ANNEXATION OF SIKKIM

56 review for Smash and Grab: Annexation of Sikkim

  1. 5 out of 5

    Arnav Sinha

    In India, the event of Sikkim becoming a part of the mother ship in 1975, if ever, is generally referred to as a 'merger'. Even in those few instances when the word 'annexation' does come up, the general impression is of India peacefully acquiring a small pimple on its shoulder to satisfy a popular demand from the population to rid itself of a corrupt, almost tyrannical, ruler. Having read a bit about Sikkim before this, I knew that this version wasn't exactly the way it happened. But, this book In India, the event of Sikkim becoming a part of the mother ship in 1975, if ever, is generally referred to as a 'merger'. Even in those few instances when the word 'annexation' does come up, the general impression is of India peacefully acquiring a small pimple on its shoulder to satisfy a popular demand from the population to rid itself of a corrupt, almost tyrannical, ruler. Having read a bit about Sikkim before this, I knew that this version wasn't exactly the way it happened. But, this book is a rare example where you get the other side of the story in fairly painful detail. Even if biased, which it certainly is, there are certain events narrated here that from a purely objective perspective also do show India in a light very different from the peace-loving, benevolent pillar of democracy that it has always been made out to be within the country. To be fair, the book unintentionally also shows that Sikkim really stood very little chance of existing as an independent country for a long time. Its status as a protectorate, a legacy of its relationship with British India, with most of its important services already under Indian control, made it hopelessly dependent on a large power anxious to fortify its borders against another powerful adversary. This status was made worse by an oddly subservient ruler (the Chogyal), who though very learned, was not exactly suited to hold his own against the remarkably conniving Indian bureaucracy or his own comic, but very ambitious, bunch of politicians. The latter form a particularly detailed cast of characters, which, for no fault of the author, sometimes seem to merge into each other because hardly any of them has a personality to stand out. Keeping track of their shenanigans becomes difficult in these situations, and the detail here actually ends up making these parts of the book boring. The author's own presence in the thick of things also takes away a lot of objectivity, but that is just nit-picking. This book is an important story that is almost never told in India, and should be known to all of us. Not just to understand what truly happened with Sikkim, but also to understand why people in Nepal, or sometimes even Bhutan (not to mention the other South Asian countries), seem to think of India as a scheming, selfish, Big Brother, where we in India see goodwill.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Vishnu Prasad

    A one-sided account, but one-sided for a reason. The other side of the story has been told far too many times.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Riju Ganguly

    Like a thriller told backwards, this book turned out to be readable-but-predictable, with not just who but even when-why-how being sorted out decades ago. Nevertheless, it was well-researched, factual, informative, sympathetic towards the aspirations of the erstwhile Government of Sikkim (before the merger) and severely critical about the high-handedness with which Indian bureaucrats had muddled the waters deliberately. Almost 4 decades have passed since the merger (annexation, according to the Like a thriller told backwards, this book turned out to be readable-but-predictable, with not just who but even when-why-how being sorted out decades ago. Nevertheless, it was well-researched, factual, informative, sympathetic towards the aspirations of the erstwhile Government of Sikkim (before the merger) and severely critical about the high-handedness with which Indian bureaucrats had muddled the waters deliberately. Almost 4 decades have passed since the merger (annexation, according to the well-argued narrative), and it's an irreversibly accomplished fact. But the book serves one valuable purpose even now. It shows that in those days of great game (cold war assumed different dimensions in South Asia), Indian bureaucracy was ready to play hard to keep what was presumed to be ours. Too bad that such dreams were surrendered so soon after they had commenced, but that's just an admirer of Patel speaking.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Adarsh Appaiah

    I really enjoyed this book. It gives the reader a peek into the other side of the story. The story of how Sikkim joined India is depicted as a peaceful & voluntary one (in mainstream media & books). This book says otherwise and points at the machinations of RAW & the Political Officer present in Gangtok. The role of Kazi & Kazini is very interesting (& that of kazini is very mysterious too). The views are one sided and portray the Chogyal as an innocent man & also a man trapped by circumstances. I really enjoyed this book. It gives the reader a peek into the other side of the story. The story of how Sikkim joined India is depicted as a peaceful & voluntary one (in mainstream media & books). This book says otherwise and points at the machinations of RAW & the Political Officer present in Gangtok. The role of Kazi & Kazini is very interesting (& that of kazini is very mysterious too). The views are one sided and portray the Chogyal as an innocent man & also a man trapped by circumstances. This is understandable since the Govt of India is very tight lipped about this incident. What could have made this book better is an appendix of different peoples and their short description. At times there are too many names to follow.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Leki Wangmo

    Gives a good and brief history on how Sikkim lost it’s independence.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sunny Kharel

    A crisp account of the developments during the reign of the last Chogyal of Sikkim. The imperialistic attitude of India and the method of divide and rule adopted to annexe Sikkim as its integral territory. An account of false propagandas made by India to make Sikkim merge with the mainland.A book that raises the question "Whether the Sikkimese were really deceived, exploited and betrayed during the annexation?". A day to day record of the happenings leading to the end of the Namgyal Dynasty and A crisp account of the developments during the reign of the last Chogyal of Sikkim. The imperialistic attitude of India and the method of divide and rule adopted to annexe Sikkim as its integral territory. An account of false propagandas made by India to make Sikkim merge with the mainland.A book that raises the question "Whether the Sikkimese were really deceived, exploited and betrayed during the annexation?". A day to day record of the happenings leading to the end of the Namgyal Dynasty and the emergence of the 22nd state of India.A masterpiece by Datta-Ray.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Devin

    The most disturbing peace of history I ever read about India.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Prashant

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mihir Saran

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lekema

  11. 5 out of 5

    Karen

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nirmal Ghimire

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sherub Tenzin

  14. 4 out of 5

    Raghunath Seshadri

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dorji.Wangchukgmail.Com

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dipankar

  17. 5 out of 5

    Abhijit Gairola

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rizwan Niaz Raiyan

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sukumar

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tim

  21. 4 out of 5

    Suman Subba

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bharani

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sonam

  24. 4 out of 5

    Animesh Animesh

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anuzata Nayak

  26. 4 out of 5

    Vishakh Unnikrishnan

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karishma

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aditya Upadhyaya

  29. 5 out of 5

    Krishna Suri

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Booth

  31. 4 out of 5

    Jenn S.

  32. 5 out of 5

    Scot

  33. 4 out of 5

    Rabindra

  34. 4 out of 5

    Vivek

  35. 5 out of 5

    Suman Pokhrel

  36. 4 out of 5

    Kt

  37. 5 out of 5

    Härjapealane

  38. 5 out of 5

    Saibal Dasgupta

  39. 5 out of 5

    Sarayu

  40. 4 out of 5

    Sudip

  41. 5 out of 5

    Brain Buzzings

  42. 5 out of 5

    Janus

  43. 4 out of 5

    Meghnad

  44. 5 out of 5

    Neelakantan K.K.

  45. 5 out of 5

    Manish

  46. 4 out of 5

    Prakash

  47. 4 out of 5

    Ethar Abuhashish

  48. 4 out of 5

    Sankarshan

  49. 5 out of 5

    Ahalya

  50. 4 out of 5

    Kumar Anshul

  51. 5 out of 5

    Dilfiza

  52. 5 out of 5

    Resha Shrestha

  53. 5 out of 5

    Kavish

  54. 4 out of 5

    Manika

  55. 4 out of 5

    Shradha Rai

  56. 4 out of 5

    Nithya

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