on 20 June 2000
When I bought this book I was a little apprehensive whether it might be too historical and not too exciting. Thankfully these suspicions were laid to rest after reading just the first few pages. It is historical as it's the Dalia Lama's life story and about the Chinese occupation of Tibet, but it's also exciting and very personally written. He tells the story as if you're in the same room with him, almost like you're old friends and he's confiding in you. The way he makes you smile and laugh one minute, then wince with shock the next really showed the care and heart put into this book. I was also pleasantly shocked at how the Dalia Lama, his people and his country have suffered so much yet he still smiles and twists any negative situations into positive ones. I think everyone could learn from his patients and thoughtfulness towards not only friends but also his enemies. I can only think of one bad thing to say about this book and that's I found it hard to follow some of the characters as most had very similar Tibetan names. That all I could find and even this isn't the authors' fault. Overall I loved this book and really enjoyed reading it, I sometimes found myself unable to put the book down as there is always some good about to happen. I'd recommend this book to anyone, especially to anyone who has lost their faith in human nature as I think we can all learn from the authors examples and experiences.
on 27 August 2003
I have had this book on my bookshelf for at least a year but only now have I plucked up the courage to read it. I was always terrified to understand the atrocities that I had a vague awareness that the Dalai Lama had faced for his people and country. After seeing Kundun about a year ago, it was only then, that I had a realisation about the suffering the Tibetan people had undergone.
The book was told in an extremely compassionate and caring way that only a spiritual person could visualise the world. As “James from England” has written, I could almost hear the voice of the writer in my head as if he was describing his life. Knowing this was an autobiography brought tears to my eyes.
I felt mortified to think that the situation in Tibet has worsened and still there appears to be little done to rectify it. Due to the fact that China invaded Tibet 50 years ago, I felt it really penetrated my soul to think that the Tibetans are still undergoing such inhumane treatment by the Chinese Government as if they are lesser human beings than the rest of the country. I found it shocking to read the stories of the torture and humiliation of the Tibetan monks and nuns. Now I feel that I must do something to help the cause and I feel the best way is, is to encourage everyone who reads this review to pick up the book and know the truth of the immense suffering of this peace-loving country that China is destroying. Not only does it reveal the truth but also it is a fascinating story about an extraordinary man’s escape from his home to another land and start again.
on 20 July 2003
A very humble book which gives you the real story of the life of the Dalai Lama, including the events which led to his departure from his beloved Tibet and the daring tale of his escape.
There now appear to be hundreds of books about the Dalai Lama. Many of them pocket-sized books of quotes or "how to" books on Buddhism or living a better lifestyle. Before you read any of these, many of which seem to have little to do with the Dalai Lama, read this one. It is a joy to read and when you have finished it you will know more about this wonderful person, Tibet and yourself.
on 3 January 2016
Worth a read if you are interested even in just one of these:
- Tibetan Buddhism in general
- The life of the Dalai Lama
- The political situation of Tibet, before and now
- Inspiration to be compassionate in the face of almost genuine evil
- Tibetan life and culture
Well written, full of touches of almost unbelievable compassion as well as warm humour, and a great source of information and even inspiration.
on 4 August 2009
This book describes the Dalai Lama's first-hand experiences of his life in Tibet, his witnessing of the Tibetan people's brutal conflict with the Chinese communist authorities and, ultimately, his escape from Tibet.
I can't do the Dalai Lama's book justice in this review, but I found it the most engaging book that I've read for a long time. The Dalai Lama writes candidly about his life experiences, in a disarmingly simple style, which lends itself to a powerful and memorable reading experience.
The Dalai Lama writes engagingly and drew me into his story, almost as if it was an adventure story. Unfortunately, the destructive and tragic events described were very real, and the the book left me feeling deeply sorrowful for the plight of the Tibetan people.
The Dalai Lama describes a beautiful land and gentle people, and their tragic and brutal encounter with the forces of the historic Maoist Chinese Communist Party, as the Chinese begin to force the Tibetans to bow to Chinese communist rule and communist culture.
The Dalai Lama describes how the Chinese forces moved into Tibet to impose their own style of government and culture. This process involved violence, force and suppression. The Dalai Lama escaped when he sensed that his own freedom and safety were in iminent danger.
The book describes the beginning of a process in which the Chinese government would impose its will on a culture, a people, and a way of life. And it describes the tragic suffering of the Tibetan people at the hands of the Chinese authorities.
The Dalai Lama largely avoids voicing his opinion regarding the Chinese authorities and their armed forces, but he just describes the brutal unfolding of events as they occurred, and lets the reader form their own opinions.
It could be argued that the book is a one-sided account of history, and of course that would be correct. It doesn't pretend to be an objective and balanced overview of history, but it's a first-hand account of one person's experiences.
If i was the type to cry easily, then I would have wept all the way through the book. My conscience reeled in sadness, horror and sorrow at the way that people can inflict such horror on other people, supposedly just in the name of 'progress', but actually, more to do with the human greed, corruption and hunger for power. At the end of the book, I couldn't help feeling heart-broken for the Tibetan people and what they have experienced at the hands of the historic Chinese communist authorities. These feelings were probably heightened because the Dalai Lama is an optimist and describes his people with such affection and compassion, portraying the Tibetans as a benign, gentle, spiritual and simple people who lived from the land.
The years have moved on since the events described in this book, but by many accounts, ethnic Tibetan people still suffer hardship and discrimination today in Tibet, and I wonder how the Dalai Lama can remain so balanced, and retain such composure and dignity, as he does when recounting the historic events in this book. It must be hard in the face of the enforced transformation (or suppression) of his beloved culture, and in the face of the immense suffering of a people who he describes with such affection.
All the way through the book the Dalai Lama writes with a sense of compassion, fairness, affection and forgiveness, even towards his aggressors, in the face of extreme hostility and destruction.
The book clarified many misunderstandings surrounding the Tibetan situation for me, and I can't recommend this book highly enough.
on 22 May 2014
I bought this because it was in my book club's reading schedule for this year, otherwise I probably would not have bothered. That would have been a great mistake as the book is both well written and gripping in its relaying of a very faith full man's life. If you are ever feeling that you are down on your luck, this is the ultimate anti-depressive read. Many negative situations are turned into perceived positives which very uplifting if a bit naive in places. The other members of the book club pretty much shared these views as well.
on 27 July 2012
I have ready many books on Tibet and am well aware that the Dalai Lama polarises a minority of people, and those in power within China in particular. Having read this book, and assuming his actions are consistent with the words, then I find it completely baffling how this can be. Above all the man seems just so damn reasonable. The most illuminating part for me was his exposition of 5 key points that he would like to see put into action for Tibet, of which I personally cannot see how there could be any disagreement - unless China is expansionist.
The Dalai Lama comes across as bright, considerate, democratic, egalitarian and surprisingly open to the views of both the non-religious and those who are committed to religions other than Buddhism. Indeed his view is that all religions have something we can all learn from. I would give this 5* but for the fact that at the end of it I felt I understood his life, but not really the man.
on 9 February 2013
A must book for anyone wanting to know the truth about Tibet, its history and suffering caused by China. Very moving book that will make you cry more than once, and that will make you lough out laud on numerous occasion. It's written in readers friendly very informative way. Easy to read and to understand.
After all that China has done and is still doing to poor Tibetan people, Dalai Lama menages to stay positive about Tibetan future.
The torture Chinese used (and are still using) to 'educate' Tibetans children, women and men is truly shocking!!!
From forcing children to torture and kill their own parents, to crucifixion, beheading, forcing nun and monks to preform sexual act in public, starvation, buried them alive, vaginal electrocution ......and so on!
The sad thing is, that the genocide has been committed by Chinese in Tibet, East Turkmenistan (also taken by China) and Mongolia and no-one has courage to say to China; STOP! Very, very sad that big countries that can make a difference, are still putting profit before human life.
I think this book also sends a strong message of hope that one day Tibet and Tibetan people will be free from Chinese rule and once again independent.
Highly recommended book.