Tibet in Agony: Lhasa 1959

Tibet in Agony: Lhasa 1959


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The Chinese Communist government has twice invoked large-scale military might to crush popular uprisings in capital cities. The second incident--the notorious massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989--is well known. The first, thirty years earlier in Tibet, remains little understood today. Yet in wages of destruction, bloodshed, and trampling of human rights, the tragic toll of March 1959 surpassed Tiananmen.

Tibet in Agony provides the first clear historical account of the Chinese crackdown in Lhasa. Sifting facts from the distortions of propaganda and partisan politics, Jianglin Li reconstructs a chronology of events that lays to rest lingering questions about what happened in those fate-filled days and why. Her story begins with throngs of Tibetan demonstrators who--fearful that Chinese authorities were planning to abduct the Dalai Lama, their beloved leader--formed a protective ring around his palace. On the night of March 17, he fled in disguise, only to reemerge in India weeks later to set up a government in exile. But no peaceful resolution awaited Tibet. The Chinese army soon began shelling Lhasa, inflicting thousands of casualties and ravaging heritage sites in the bombardment and the infantry onslaught that followed. Unable to resist this show of force, the Tibetans capitulated, putting Mao Zedong in a position to fulfill his long-cherished dream of bringing Tibet under the Communist yoke.

Li's extensive investigation, including eyewitness interviews and examination of classified government records, tells a gripping story of a crisis whose aftershocks continue to rattle the region today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674088894
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 10/10/2016
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 631,516
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Jianglin Li is an independent scholar and writer who specializes in post-1950 Tibetan history and the Tibetan diaspora.

Table of Contents

Preface to the English Edition vii

Maps xvii

Prologue 1

1 The Seeds of War 3

2 Summit in Delhi 21

3 Tragedy at Lake Qinghai 45

4 Uneasy Spring in Lhasa 68

5 The Exorcists' Dance at the Potala Palace 83

6 Peril at the Prayer Festival 94

7 The Dalai Lama May Not Bring Bodyguards! 104

8 The Most Momentous Day in Tibetan History 116

9 The Undercover Men of Kham 136

10 Protect the Norbulingka! Protect the Dalai Lama! 147

11 The Gathering Clouds of War 162

12 A Secret Plan 174

13 Go! Go! Tonight! 190

14 The Night Ferry 203

15 Into the Himalayas 213

16 Battle at Daybreak 231

17 The Death of the Medicine Buddha 249

18 River of Blood 259

19 Inferno 276

20 Surrender, and Save the Temple! 286

21 The Aftermath 291

22 The Eternal Crossing 300

Epilogue 309

Notes 317

Glossary of Names 375

Wylie Transliteration of Tibetan Names 379

Bibliography 381

Acknowledgments 397

Illustration Credits 399

Index 401

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