The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama

Overview

Over the course of three years, journalist Thomas Laird spent more than sixty hours with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in candid, one-on-one interviews in Dharamsala, India. They discussed His Holiness's lifelong study of Buddhism and his beliefs on history, science, and reincarnation. Through these conversation, Laird and the Dalai Lama laid the cornerstones of a popular history of Tibet, something that has not been done with a Dalai Lama since the 1600s. This was an enormous project, and the result is The Story ...
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The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama

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Overview

Over the course of three years, journalist Thomas Laird spent more than sixty hours with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in candid, one-on-one interviews in Dharamsala, India. They discussed His Holiness's lifelong study of Buddhism and his beliefs on history, science, and reincarnation. Through these conversation, Laird and the Dalai Lama laid the cornerstones of a popular history of Tibet, something that has not been done with a Dalai Lama since the 1600s. This was an enormous project, and the result is The Story of Tibet, a vibrant historical narrative that brings these meetings to life and is a crucial addition to our understanding of Tibet.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a tenderly crafted study that is equal parts love letter, traditional history and oral history, Laird chronicles the development of Tibet from its mythic origins to its takeover by Communist China in 1950. Weaving historical research with interviews with the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled leader, veteran journalist Laird (Into Tibet: The CIA's First Atomic Spy and His Secret Expedition to Lhasa) offers insight into the triumphs and failures of the country. In one particularly fascinating section, the Dalai Lama expresses reservations about the truth of the Tibetan creation myths involving a demon and a monkey and accepts Darwin's theory of evolution as the most logical explanation of the origins of humankind. Laird traces Tibet's sometimes tortured relationships with China and India, recounting the country's conflicts with the Mongols and the Manchu Empire, as well as its struggles for independence in the face of Chinese occupation. The Dalai Lama also recounts his early life; vividly recalls his first meeting, at age 19, with Mao Zedong; and reflects on his years in exile and his hopes for Tibet to be freed from occupation. Throughout, Laird's colorful and lively writing brings to life thousands of years of Tibetan history, inviting the reader on his journey to a strange and wonderful land. 16 pages of color photos. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
AGERANGE: Ages 15 to adult.

Thomas Laird is a longtime journalist who has lived in Katmandu, Nepal and is intimately familiar with the area. Over the course of three years, he had many personal conversations with the Dalai Lama in order to write this book. The result is a personal and spiritual history. Because of his intense meditations, the Dalai Lama offers thoughtful and sometimes surprising reflections on this mysterious part of the world, including his conclusion that the traditional theory of the view of creation involving a demon and a monkey is inconsistent with the theory of evolution that he believes in. He reflects on Buddhism, recent and past Chinese history, and his own remarkable childhood and fate as the chosen leader of his people. He describes his personal and political views on his own exile and the Chinese occupation of his country. Laird obviously has great affection and respect for the Dalai Lama as well as for the region, and this shines through the entire book in his descriptions of the country, its monument and its leader. The author concludes that we can come together politically only when we acknowledge our distinctiveness. The book has an extensive bibliography and notes on each chapter and includes two sections of photographs. Reviewer: Nola Theiss
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)

Library Journal
Nepal-based American journalist Laird (Into Tibet: The CIA's First Atomic Spy and His Secret Expedition to Lhasa) has long been following events in Tibet. Between 1999 and 2000, he interviewed the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet in India, where His Holiness has been in exile since 1959. Laird asked the Dalai Lama about his life and his understanding of the history and development of Tibetan Buddhism. For this reason alone, this book makes a significant contribution to the outpouring of recent writings on Tibet. We see the human being behind all the media generated wherever the Dalai Lama goes, and we see how he interprets the events that have brought his native land and followers to where they are today. Laird does, however, comment and expand considerably on his subject's remarks, so the reader is given an edited, filtered, and sympathetic look at this remarkable man. Like most books on Tibet, this one is politically charged and highly critical of Chinese actions there. An epilog brings the continuing story up to 2006; the bibliography is commendably thorough. Laird's book will find a readership in both public and academic libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ2/15/06.]
—Harold M. Otness
Kirkus Reviews
An initially rickety narrative about the exiled Dalai Lama's homeland recovers to stand solidly in favor of Tibet's independence from China. Crime-novelist Laird (Black Dog, 2004, etc.) is also a former Asiaweek correspondent who has written about the CIA's Cold War meddling in the region (Into Tibet, 2001). Here, he moves directly to the heart of geopolitical matters in a surprisingly intimate "history" of Tibet as revealed in conversation with its outcast leader, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. Composed over three years from more than 60 hours of interviews with His Holiness, the text makes it clear that neither Laird nor his esteemed collaborator is a historian. "This is not just a book about history," the author declares at one point, "but about how you learned it." Yet what emerges from their give-and-take is a thoughtful dialogue (call it a philosophical dialectic) about Tibet's past not simply as a sequence of events, but as seen through the perspectives of myth, spirituality, morality, human frailty and fate. The intermixture of historical research with dialogue and the writer's own descriptions of working on the project is at first distracting. But as the unique nature of Tibet's identity as "an inward-looking religious state" emerges, it becomes painfully clear how the nation came to be overrun by the People's Republic of China in the 1950s, eventually forcing the Dalai Lama to flee and set up a government-in-exile in northern India. The book fares best when, as in its later chapters, it stays close to the present and to Tenzin Gyatso. His Holiness remains committed to dialogue and nonviolence in resolving Tibet's longstanding disagreements with China, and his humor andhumility in the face of adversity are remarkable for a figure representing a nation and people so clearly wronged. Will deepen general readers' knowledge of Tibet, its religion and its engaging leader. First printing of 50,000; $50,000 ad/promo. Agent: Gail Hochman/Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents Inc.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802118271
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/2006
  • Pages: 470
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Table of Contents


List of Maps     ix
List of Illustrations     xi
Foreword     xvii
Introduction     1
The First Tibetans     10
The First Tibetan Emperor, 600-650     27
The Tibetan Empire and the Spread of Buddhism in Tibet, 650-820     42
Lang Darma: Decline, Revolt, and a Period of Chaos, 797-977     62
The Dharma Returns, and Buddhist Orders Are Born, 978-1204     73
Mongol Overlords and the Seeds of a Problem, 1207-1368     104
A Master Plan: The First to the Fourth Dalai Lamas, 1357-1617     123
The Fifth Dalai Lama and the Rise of the Manchu, 1617-1720     152
The Sixth to the Twelfth Dalai Lamas, 1705-1900     185
The Thirteenth Dalai Lama, 1876-1933     211
The Early Life of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, 1935-1950     260
Life Under Chinese Occupation, 1951-1959     313
Since 1959     339
Epilogue     373
Bibliography     385
Notes     397
Index     457
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2008

    A cover on Tibetan historical facts in relation with the Dalai Lamas.

    This book provides a glimpse into the history of Tibet and the political influence of the Dalai Lamas. It gives a good religious history and the implications of the religion on the political consequence in Tibet. It explains the impact of the foreign influence exerting power in Tibet from the time of the Mongolian empires to the Manchu empire. The book does a good job of explaining the current situation of where our Tibet has landed in.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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