In This Review

The Bullet and the Ballot Box: The Story of Nepal's Maoist Revolution
The Bullet and the Ballot Box: The Story of Nepal's Maoist Revolution
By Aditya Adhikari
Verso, 2014, 326 pp

The Nepalese Maoist movement emerged at an unlikely time: the mid-1990s, when communism was in global retreat. But by 2006, the movement had gained control over most of Nepal’s countryside and had become the largest party in the country’s parliament. This thoroughly researched book reveals how this happened. The leaders were mostly educated youths from marginalized upper-caste families. As machinations rivaling those on the television show House of Cards roiled the palace and the parliament, the Maoists used hit-and-run tactics in poverty-stricken minority districts to provoke the king to unleash the army -- a move approved of by Washington. The regime’s harsh response generated additional support for the rebels. The Maoists made mistakes, but these were trumped by the king’s overreaching, which triggered an alliance between the rebels and the factions that finally drove the royal family from power in 2008. But in the aftermath of those events, the revolution has stalled. The government remains divided, the Maoists and the military have declined to cooperate with inquiries into the atrocities both sides committed, and a hard-line Maoist splinter group has accused the movement’s more mainstream leadership of opportunism for joining the parliamentary game.