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Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land (Vintage Departures)by Patrick French
Far from a Hollywood interpretation, French's research on Tibet is enlightening, analytical, and passionate. This historical travel memoir may be the best of its kind.
Synopses & Reviews
When Patrick French was a teenager, the Dalai Lama visited his school in northern England. Fascinated by this exotic apparition, French began what was to become a lifelong quest to understand Tibet, the myth and the fact. He would immerse himself in the history, travel as the guest of ordinary Tibetans — nuns, nomads, and exiles — and organize Free Tibet activists from an office in London. Now he gives us a kaleidoscopic account of that journey.
Part memoir, part travel book, part history, Tibet, Tibet ventures beyond our world-weary fantasies to discover the truth behind a culture's struggle for survival. In French's narrative, a land adored for peaceful spirituality reveals its surprising early history of fierce war-making. Here as well are the centuries-old legends of how Tibetan diplomats maneuvered deftly at the Chinese court, legends that inform to this day each people's view of the other. A perennial vassal state, Tibet nevertheless managed to preserve its distinctive culture for centuries — until the twentieth, when everything was destroyed with devastating speed by Mao's overwhelming forces.
"First-rate reporting, sometimes alarming and always informative, from a writer whose heart instructs his mind and animates his pen." Kirkus Reviews
"Colorful stories about previous incarnations of the Dalai Lama and examples of badly written signs throughout the country...provide momentary relief from the brutality, without diminishing the impact of this starkly realistic portrait of a land that has become a shadow of its former self." Publishers Weekly
"[A] perceptive book that goes a step further than Hollywood celebrities putting protest bumper stickers on their cars." Library Journal
"Unflinching...French has a decided gift for inspired and heartfelt research. Strikingly scrupulous and disciplined, he wins readers' trust...earns our admiration...[and] brilliantly dissects much that is fuzzy or wrong in the indiscriminate embrace of Tibet." Pico Iyer, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"I am deeply grateful to Patrick French for going [to Tibet] and emerging with an insightful and compassionate report that tells me what I need to know about the beleagured magic kingdom" Newsday
At different times in its history Tibet has been renowned for pacifism and martial prowess, enlightenment and cruelty. The Dalai Lama may be the only religious leader who can inspire the devotion of agnostics. Patrick French has been fascinated by Tibet since he was a teenager. He has read its history, agitated for its freedom, and risked arrest to travel through its remote interior. His love and knowledge inform every page of this learned, literate, and impassioned book.
Talking with nomads and Buddhist nuns, exiles and collaborators, French portrays a nation demoralized by a half-century of Chinese occupation and forced to depend on the patronage of Western dilettantes. He demolishes many of the myths accruing to Tibet-including those centering around the radiant figure of the Dalai Lama. Combining the best of history, travel writing, and memoir, Tibet, Tibet is a work of extraordinary power and insight.
About the Author
Patrick French was born in England in 1966. He studied literature at the University of Edinburgh, and is the author of Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer, which won the Somerset Maugham Award and the Royal Society of Literature W. H. Heinemann Prize, and Liberty or Death: India's Journey to Independence and Division, which won the London Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award.
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History and Social Science » Asia » India » Ancient and General