The three titles in this slick and glossy series feature an entertaining writing style and heavy use of photographs. They are probably more suited for browsing than for serious study or for use in reports due to their lack of critical analysis. The biographies, all three of which are reprints of titles originally published in 1996 and 1997, are almost guilty of "hero worship" by not presenting critical views of their subjects. For example, the Steven Spielberg book glosses over SKG/Dreamworks' problems and Spielberg's personal relationships. Also, in The 14th Dalai Lama, the writer is clearly awestruck by her subject and wants to impress upon her readers how special he is. Yet some examples given are not very convincing. In one case, when she is trying to show examples of his readiness to rule his people, it may come across to readers that he is merely acting spoiled. Conversely, his spiritedness and rebellion against authority may prove attractive to teens. That said, there are positive aspects to each book that may prove useful to readers. Each includes an index, bibliography and list of sources, and the book on Spielberg even includes a filmography. Those who read the Muhammad Ali title can get background information on the sport of boxing. The 14th Dalai Lama explains unfamiliar terms in Buddhist culture and the history of the Dalai Lamas to readers. It also points out that the symbol of the swastika means something different and positive to people of Tibet than what it represented to the Nazis. One puzzling minor point occurs when the writer indicates the thoughts of the Dalai Lama periodically, yet neglects to clarify where the sources came for these thoughts. Was it an interview,diary entries, or some other source? Of the three, the biography of the 14th Dalai Lama is most highly recommended for purchase due to the limited amount of materials on this subject for the age group. Biographies of Spielberg and Ali will not be essential purchases unless collections need updating or there is a heavy interest in these two figures. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2000, Lerner/A & E Biography, 128p, illus, bibliog, index, 22cm, 00-010279, $7.95. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Tricia Finch; Youth Svcs. Mgr., North Port P.L., North Port, FL, March 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 2)
- Tim Whitney
In 1936, Buddhist monks searched Tibet for the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, the living embodiment of the deity of compassion. Their search ended with the discovery of the Dalai Lama in the person of a two-year-old farm boy. This biography of the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, traces his life from these humble beginnings to his current exile in India due to Chinese occupation of Tibet. It also discusses the history of Tibet and the role of the religious leader in this country's spiritual and political life. The religion of Buddhism is explained, as well as the Lama's daily routine of meditation, writing, and public activity. This informative, well-written biography with numerous photos leaves the reader touched by the tragedy that is still occurring in mountainous Tibet and inspired by the peacemaking efforts of this spiritual leader.
School Library Journal
Gr 5 UpThis clearly written book chronologically traces the subject's life, from the fascinating discovery that he was the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, to his childhood of rigorous Buddhist religious education, to his present situation as a leader in exile. As a theocracy, the political and spiritual in Tibet are intertwined, and this biography reflects that fact by concentrating on both the political history of the country and on the spiritual life of the subject. The author's sympathies are clearly with the Dalai Lama and his decisions. Chinese justifications for annexing Tibet are presented, but easily explained away. The Dalai Lama's accomplishments in maintaining and promoting Tibetan culture in exiled Tibetan communities around the world are praised. The text is illustrated with well-chosen black-and-white and full-color photographs from various archives. A useful addition for reports.Susan Middleton, LaJolla Country Day School, CA