The incredible true story of Tibet's 17th Karmapa
Publishers WeeklyThis intelligent and well-written biography-cum-travelogue explores the life of the 17th Karmapa, the teenage lama who fled Chinese-occupied Tibet in 2000 for India. Brown, a freelance journalist who began the book as a magazine article after the lama's daring escape, traces the Karmapa's story but also uses the account to give Western readers a quick sketch of the nature, history and perennial conflicts of Tibetan Buddhism. Unlike other Western writers who tend to romanticize Buddhism in Asia, Brown evenhandedly paints it as a religion that is as rife with political considerations and human foibles as it is with miraculous incarnations and incomparable teachers. At times the early historical chapters can be too detailed, but Brown's balanced tone serves him well, and the writing is superbly accessible. He is particularly interested in the 11 years that elapsed between the 16th Karmapa's death in 1981 and the recognition of his seven-year-old successor in 1992; Brown shows these years to be characterized by feuding and accusations among the 16th's closest disciples. In the later chapters, he also chronicles China's mid-1990s crackdown on Buddhist practitioners in Tibet who remained loyal to the Dalai Lama, whom the Chinese government labeled a dangerous villain. Far from being a mere report on the 17th Karmapa and his exodus, this is an excellent history of modern Tibetan Buddhism on a broad scale. (June 21) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library JournalWhen most Westerners think of Buddhism, they conjure images of an eccentric Zen master or the seeming perfect peace and equanimity embodied in the Dalai Lama. In the tradition of Gilles van Grasdorff's Hostage of Beijing: The Abduction of the Panchen Lama but far more effective, this readable and interesting account expands that vision by illuminating the high-stakes politics of Tibetan Buddhism, the arcane process of identifying the reincarnation of a high lama, and the importance of Tibetan Buddhist leaders in addition to the Dalai Lama. British journalist Brown (The Spiritual Tourist: A Personal Odyssey Through the Outer Reaches of Belief ) describes the recognition of the 17th Karmapa, religious leader of the Kagyu branch of Tibetan Buddhism, his harrowing escape in 2000 from Chinese-occupied Tibet to India, and the political intrigue and infighting that surrounds him to this day. Recommended for popular collections.-James R. Kuhlman, Univ. of North Carolina at Asheville Lib. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Observer"Brown manages to make his book both informative and fast paced. A fascinating read."
Sunday Telegraph"An extraordinary story. His narrative is crisp, dramatic and scrupulously even-handed."
Sunday Times"Brown unravels the bizarre, labyrinthine tale that follows, involving lawsuits, death and some of the strangest characters you will find outside fiction."
Daily Telegraph"The Dance of 17 Lives is investigative journalism of the highest order- observant, inconclusive and compelling."
Independent"A wickedly engaging yarn."
Literary Review"A colourful, dramatic thriller. [Brown] is an excellent interviewer, and some of the settings for these conversations are vividly rendered."
Sunday Business Post"An enthralling insight into the inner workings of Buddhist politics...a superb read. A well-written book, it's a must-read for those with an interest in Buddhist politics."
New Statesman"[A] lively and judicious account of the Karmapas."
Time Out"Absorbing. [Brown] provides a fine introduction to this ''magical'' world of lamas, umzes (chant-masters) and geyoks (discriplinarians), wisely concealing his own faith under the veil of compelling reportage."
Washington Post"An escape that for drama and daring makes most Hollywood fare pale by comparison…[Brown's] neutral journalistic tone is useful for reporting so much that seems incredible."
Booklist"Tangled rumors, rivalries among lamas, a secret letter, gnarled court cases, and violence all feature in this complex and startling tale...Brown's informative and frank portrait of the courageous young lama conveys the power of Tibetan Buddhism and the blight of 'theological politics.'"
- Bloomsbury USA
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