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History as Propaganda: Tibetan Exiles Versus the People's Republic of China Hardcover – 1 Oct 2004


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"History as Propaganda is a fascinating study of how historical sources and events are selectively and subjectively interpreted by Chinese propagandists, Tibetan exiles, and Western scholars for the purpose of furthering diametrically opposed political claims. Powers presents well-reasoned arguments that challenge many facile assumptions about Tibets complex relationships with successive Chinese administrations. The authors critical yet balanced approach is destined to ruffle feathers on both sides of the political chasm. This is a must read for anybody who is interested in Tibets political status, and is a welcome contribution to the literature concerning nationalism, ethnicity, and historical argumentation." --Geoff Childs, author of Tibetan Diary: From Birth to Death and Beyond in a Himalayan Valley of Nepal"This is a useful, clear-headed, and profoundly discouraging account of two deeply held but completely incommensurate versions of the Tibetan past and present.... Powers provides a balanced guide through the literature with this entirely reliable account of versions of history credible only to true believers on each side."--CHOICE"History as Propaganda provides a scholarly and dispassionate examination of ways in which Chinese and Tibetans project their claims and counter-claims in the international arena. The book should appeal to all those interested in Tibetan affairs." --Tsering Shakya, author of The Dragon in the Landof Snows

About the Author

John Powers is a Reader at the Centre for Asian Studies and Histories at the Australian National University in Canberra. He is the author of numerous books, including A Concise Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2000) and Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism (1995).

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The adage that history is written by the victors may once have been true. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Good book for those truly interested in the complex Tibet issue 31 Oct. 2011
By Bjorn Berg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This book clearly shows that history has been - since ancient times - interpreted differently by the two sides, and that this is still very much the case in the modern era.

The main conclusion that can be drawn from the book is that the views held by both the Chinese government and the Tibetan government-in-exile are inherently biased owing to the different cultures, recorded histories, and world views of these two groups - a situation which is further compounded by the current political rivalry.

One example that the book mentions - and which stuck in my mind - is that of the marriage between a Tibetan king and a Chinese princess. This historical fact is then examined from the points of view of both Tibetans and Chinese. Unsurprisingly, significant differences exist in how this historical fact was interpreted, recorded, and transmitted down the ages by the Tibetans and Chinese.

I found this a very worthwhile read. Potential buyers should, however, be aware that the author obviously feels more connected with Tibet than with China. I would classify this as a minor bias towards Tibet that is noticeable in the writing style of the book. Importantly, I do not feel this bias has significantly undermined the quality of the book as both the Tibetan and Chinese points of view are given due consideration.
10 of 25 people found the following review helpful
A biased work 27 Aug. 2011
By Laowan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author wanted to be neutral in his position presenting and commenting on the arguments from Chinese government and Tibetan government-in-exile. He criticizes the stupid propaganda made by Chinese government, but he seldom criticizes the deceitful propaganda by Tibetan government-in-exile, which uses "democracy" and "human rights" to plead their case of pursuing independence. Were there any "democracy" and "human rights" under Dalai Lama's regime, a manorial serfdom, where the peasants lived on the estates of the aristocratic landowners and they were bound to their lord from birth, and worked his land, not unlike the peasants in medieval Europe?

The author's experiences make him biased in this topic inevitably, though I believe he tried not to be. From the last 2 paragraphs of his book: "During my tenure in graduate school and in subsequent research trips to South Asia, I lived in Tibetan communities and developed friendships with a number of Tibetans. In this situation, my exposure to Tibetan history was heavily conditioned by their perspective, ..."

I recommend the book "The Snow Lion and the Dragon" authored by Melvyn C. Goldstein to readers interested in Tibet Question.
7 of 22 people found the following review helpful
History as Propaganda 15 May 2008
By P. Lorca - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A readable, painfully balanced presentation of the issues surrounding the Tibetan exiles vs the Chinese government conflict.
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