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Dragon in the Land of Snows


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A valuable scholarly history of modern Tibet that passes an unflattering judgment on the role of the West, this study earned critical praise in England, where it was first published. Shakya, a research fellow at London University, fled his native Tibet with his family amid the horrors of China's Cultural Revolution in 1967. Remarkably, his tone is objective as he seeks to understand and present the Chinese viewpointÄthat Tibet has always been part of the Chinese empire and that Maoism has ushered a backward feudalistic society into the 20th centuryÄeven as he forcefully refutes it. Using Tibetan-language and Chinese sources, oral records of Tibetan leaders and British, U.S. and Indian government documents, Shakya compellingly explains what has happened to Tibet since the Chinese military invasion of 1950. Almost the entire Tibetan army, plus many activists, monks and students, were arrested and dispatched to labor camps in Tibet and in China. Tibet's monasteries and temples were destroyed or pillaged by China's Red Guards. All expressions of dissent and of loyalty to the exiled Dalai Lama have been punished. As part of its policy of total assimilation aimed at the annihilation of Tibetan culture, Beijing has encouraged tens of thousands of Chinese to settle in Tibet. Shakya's quietly devastating chronicle faults the U.S. and Britain for making the question of human rights subservient to the West's desire for better relations with China. Thorough and fair, Shakya sheds light on a country whose complex reality is often ignored even by the most well-intentioned advocates of the Tibetan cause in the West. Photos. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Shakya, a Tibetan national and scholar at the School of Oriental and African Studies, has assembled a detailed, scholarly, and objective history of Tibet from the 1940s to 1990s. Comfortable examining both the local and international aspects of this wrenching period, he gives new insights in the diplomatic arena, in particular where Tibet intersected with the UN and India. CIA involvement in Tibetan independence forms an interesting sidelight. One gains a well-rounded picture of the institutional, socioeconomic, demographic, cultural, and, of course, religious implications of Tibet's "return to the motherland" (China). Though he consulted no Chinese-language materials, his lengthy bibliography is rich in both English and Tibetan resources, including oral accounts. And while the chronology is at times presented in ponderous detail, one is left firmly appreciative of the author's balanced view of the politically and emotionally charged issues surrounding modern Tibet. Recommended for public and academic libraries, especially those with Asian studies collections.ÄD.E. Perushek, Northwestern Univ. Lib., Evanston, IL Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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