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on 25 March 2014
I am not a talented reviewer and this is the first time I have submitted a review to Amazon. Following a trip to the Sherpa region of Nepal a few years back I became very interested in their Buddhist culture which had spread down to them from Tibet (Mahayana branch). I wanted to understand Tibet a little better and this book has done so exceeding all my expectations. With apologies to the author it reads like a "can't put down" page-turning novel as the history of this fascinating country unravels. As an outsider to Tibet one has to wonder whether its magic and mystery could have survived for too long in this internet world even without the invasion of the PRC. Something has undoubtedly been lost, no maliciously destroyed, and we are no better for it. Mr Van Schaik has done an excellent job - well recommended.
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on 6 October 2014
An honest introduction to the history of Tibet that doesn't spare anybody's feelings. The Chinese historical claim to the territory of Tibet is utterly thrashed as is the view that Tibet was a peaceful Shangri-La until the modern world shattered its spiritual bubble. The widely held view that Bon Religion predates Tibetan Buddhism is also upended. Starting from the seventh century, when god-kings curried favour from disparate local Chieftans and foreign forces, we journey the centuries when Buddhism both flourished and withered in cycles due to not only anti-Buddhist forces but principally due to in fighting, intrigue and power lust among the principle monastic abbots, Tulkus, as well as successive Dalai and Panchen Lama's.. In more recent history the effects of international trade, colonialism, globalism and the power struggle between Russia, China, and Britain are examined. This book comes highly recommended to the general reader but also for practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism who will acquire a more grounded and sturdy view of their philosophical tradition in place of the misty eyed gaze of a 'dharma-bum' It is the perfect introduction to Tibets history and will sit comfortably alongside the esoteric histories of the region more often pandered to in the west.
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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.
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on 3 July 2014
A concise introduction to Tibetan history, which is fascinating and exciting. Moreover, the author has managed to pull of the almost impossible feat of while giving an excellent account of Sino-Tibetan relations through the ages, is written so unbiasedly that he can hardly offend either side (or perhaps both equally). A must-have for anyone interested in (obviously) Tibetan history but also for anyone who wants an understanding of how the situation as regards Chinese rule in Tibet is as it is at present.
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on 4 March 2016
An excellent political history - simple to read, straight forward, un-biased and direct. The only fault I fin with the book is that it could have been longer - to include more detail. The final part of the is based a little too much on the Dalai Lamas at the expense of the many other aspects of Tibet in the 19th and 20 Centuries.
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on 19 August 2015
A very good reference book, describing the lives and politics of the main characters that shaped Tibet
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on 11 October 2015
Well written, easy to read overview of Tibetan history.
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on 14 June 2011
The book looks new and I receive it only three days after purchasing. Very speedy and reliable service. Love it!!
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