Book Review Title: The Life of Father William Mackey in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan
Book Title: The Jesuit and The Dragon.
Author: Howard Solverson.
Publisher: Robert Davies Multimedia Publishing, US
Year of Publication: December, 1995.
Published in 1995 by Robert Davies Multimedia Publishing, US and written in 320 pages, ‘The Jesuit and The Dragon’ by Howard Solverson tells the story of how a Jesuit priest met the Dragon Kingdom of Bhutan in a humorous and simple reader friendly English. One will discover the earliest journey of the Late Father William Mackey into the Kingdom of Bhutan, his relationships with the people of Bhutan starting from the Royals down to the common people, his contribution in the field of introducing western education in Bhutan with English as the medium of instruction, and how the Jesuit Priest was honoured with the highest civilian award “The Heart Son of Bhutan” by His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo in 1963 ultimately leading to The Late Father Mackey receiving the honorary Bhutanese citizenship in 1985.
The late father Mackey was instrumental in establishing Kanglung Public School which later became the country’s first high school and now the most well known Sherubtse College accredited with the Royal University of Bhutan.The author claims that The Late Father Mackey having spent three decades of his life in Bhutan never got involved in proselytization. In fact, The Late Father Mackey studied Buddhism to better understand his own faith.
Besides the life of the Late Father Mackey, The Jesuit and The Dragon provides a vivid account of how the education system in Bhutan developed under the leadership of His Majesty the Third King and His Majesty the Fourth King. One will also discover about the many prominent figures in the 1960s such as Babu Tashi, Babu Karchung, Lyonpo Tamji Jagar who played crucial roles in the development of education in the east in particular and across the country in general. On the lighter side, one will be amused to know about the three ‘guluphulus’ of the east- Father Guluphulu, Doctor Guluphulu and Drungpa Guluphulu and the mystery behind the nicknames so accorded.
Those of you who have studied in Trashigang, Kanglung and Khaling would relate more to the book and you may find that some of the notorious students mentioned the book could be you who very often received the famous ‘Lopen Shing’ from The Late Father Mackey.
From the way intricate details are put in the book, Howard Solverson has done extensive one to one talk with the Late Father Mackey and others who were closely associated with the Late Father. The book is recommended for all who are interested in the early history of Bhutan and the involvement of a Jesuit in the development of western education in Bhutan.