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 ...
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. Today, as Chinese tourists take snapshots and buy kitsch at Tibetan monasteries, young nuns quietly continue the underground fight against Communist rule. In Dharamsala, over cappuccino, exiled monks pitch their cause to Western pilgrims decked out in gaudy robes. Tibetans recall the terrible days of the Great Leap Forward and eagerly ask French for news of the Dalai Lama. In the presence of this internationally revered spiritual and political leader, French retains a measure of his youthful amazement, but finally, inescapably, he comes to disturbing conclusions about His Holiness's role in his people's collective tragedy. With immense learning and a clear but compassionate eye, Patrick French gives us a sober new understanding of a culture's senseless catastrophe and allows us to see what realistically can-and cannot-be done to alleviate it.
This book has soft covers. Ex-library, With usual stamps and markings, In fair condition, suitable as a study copy.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-08-25 French first encountered the Dalai Lama as an English schoolboy, sparking a deep interest that led to his leadership of the Free Tibet Campaign. But after the 1999 journey recounted in this travel memoir and political history, he's pessimistic about whether outside agitation does anything other than harden the hearts of the occupying Chinese government. The grim depiction of a people living under "constant mental supervision" offers little hope, implicitly suggesting Tibet can never be free unless China is free as well. Though every interview is potentially life-threatening for the Tibetans, they share powerful stories of the abuse they suffered during the Cultural Revolution. (And amazingly, the author manages to walk right into the hospital room of a former political leader.) The historical sections have much to say about the invasion of Tibet in 1950 and subsequent atrocities, but also describe the horrors that befell the rest of China, including widespread cannibalism throughout the 1960s. Its assessment of modern Western attitudes toward Tibet is harsh, lambasting naive activists and would-be Buddhists for "Dalaidolatry" and ignorance about the country. And despite his great personal admiration for the Dalai Lama, French criticizes his political blunders that ruined possible reconciliations with the Chinese government, leading up to an interview with the Dalai Lama depicted with both reverence and disappointment. Colorful stories about previous incarnations of the Dalai Lama and examples of badly written signs throughout the country (e.g., "THERE ARE KINDS OF BEVERAGES") 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. Maps. (Oct. 21) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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