The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947

The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947

by Tsering Shakya
4.0 1
ISBN-10:
0231118147
ISBN-13:
9780231118149
Pub. Date:
08/26/1999
Publisher:
Perseus (for Columbia University Press)

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The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet Since 1947 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a little long and, in places, a little ponderous, but is well worth the effort occasionally required. Shakya examines questions of Tibetan nationalism and independence, self-sustainability and internal political development against China's efforts to 'modernise' (both economically and culturally, so Beijing says), develop and aid Tibet as it moves through the latter half of the 20th entury and into the 21st century. It is a testament to the author's dispassion that he chronicles on both the Tibetan and Chinese sides a certain myopia and presumptuousness, although the Chinese are afflicted by more blind ideological rigidity than anyone else here. A great deal of bravery is also exhibited here, by a select few Chinese political leaders and a great number of young Tibetan resistance fighters. Along the way, we are witness to America's high-minded, if naive and ill-informed, efforts to 'liberate' Tibet; India's near-frantic efforts to walk a very, very delicate knife-edge between the regional political realities of Chinese influence and a certain ethnic and religious kinship with the Tibetans; and even the fears of a very nervous Nepal caught in the middle. The most harrowing passages are those detailing the viciously stupid excesses of China's Cultural Revolution and the devastating effects on the Tibetan populace and religious practice. At the heart of that particular tale, of course, is the sad fact of Han contempt for, and racism towards, Tibet. Ultimately, of course, the book must address the question of Tibetan independence -- was it ever a fact, will it ever BE a fact. While China's claims on Tibet appear historically tenuous, the simple fact today is that Tibet's survival as an independent entity is far from assured. In short, the need for another poverty-struck, needy, badly under-developed Third World nation is questionable. While the contribution of Tibet's traditional religious culture to humanity's heritage is indisputable, the country's ability to support itself is not. Shaka concludes that, in the end, the authority exercised over Tibet by Beijing is, for the moment, not even remotely likely to change. Additionally, he says -- and probably correctly -- a kinder, gentler Chinese authority is, at least for the foreseeable future, the best practical alternative amongst a range of even-less-appealing options. The Dragon in the Land of Snows is a marvellous corrective to a great deal of badly informed opining and emotional provocation.