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Tibet - a (rich man's) history
on 19 February 2012
To me, this wasn't much of a history of Tibet. It was only a history of Tibet's nobility and rich people, and their comings and goings. In essence, to me this was a political history of Tibet only: something which was not apparent from the description here.
It felt like there was very little about the actual country, as in ordinary life or hierarchy. At a couple of points, the 'hierarchical' nature of society is mentioned, but barely a paragraph in the whole book is dedicated to the peasants, the daily way of life or the structure of Tibetan society. As someone who strongly sways towards popular histories, I really felt like the interesting stuff (how people lived, who owned who, how the economy worked, detail on the religious beliefs and practices, food and drink, sex life etc) just wasn't really in there. Instead, this book is more 'tsenpo so and so fell out with emperor so and so' etc etc.
In the end, I did get through this, but it wasn't until the last part of the book on the Chinese takeover of Tibet that I started to become more interested in the book. That part was interesting, but still could have had more detail on the effect on ordinary people's lives (it was, by far, the most balanced part of the book in this respect, though).
Personally, I don't recommend this book to people who prefer social or people's histories (or merely balanced works that give you the whole picture). However, if you were looking for a history of Tibetan politics -this is the right book for you.