A great read for Tibetophiles old and new.

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ESCAPE FROM THE LAND OF SNOWS

THE YOUNG DALAI LAMA'S HARROWING FLIGHT TO FREEDOM AND THE MAKING OF A SPIRITUAL HERO

A riveting, informed narrative about the current Dalai Lama’s 14-day escape from Chinese-occupied Tibet in 1959.

Journalist Talty (The Illustrious Dead: The Terrifying Story of How Typhus Killed Napoleon’s Greatest Army, 2009, etc.) uses this remarkable historical event to tell the greater story of Tibet’s transformation from a veiled kingdom to a world cause, and the Dalai Lama’s coming of age from a teenage king and living god to an international spiritual leader. The author effectively gives the reader an introductory lesson in Tibetan history and a sense of the Tibetan people while maintaining the pace of an adventure tale. The Dalai Lama is always at the center of the story, even in passages told from other points of view, including Tibetan Khampa soldiers and CIA agents. After being discovered as the next Dalai Lama at age two, then struggling with the loneliness and formality of palace life, he ascended the throne early, at 15, upon Mao’s invasion. The Tibetan people endured Chinese occupation and escalating brutality for nine more years before a true rebellion emerged in response to a rumor that the Dalai Lama’s life was threatened. As his peace-loving people tried to hold off the ensuing Chinese attacks on the palace, the Dalai Lama was forced to flee with plans to establish a provisional government outside the capital. But after days of sandstorms, blinding sun, avalanche blizzards, dysentery and threats of leopard attacks in the 19,000-foot passes of the Himalayas, the Dalai Lama and his group learned that the Chinese were on their trail. The chase was followed by President Eisenhower, protesters worldwide and a colorful cadre of journalists who introduced Tibet to the world, “becoming famous just as it ceased to exist.” The Dalai Lama was granted asylum in India, where the he still resides, mournful for Tibet but now able to spread his culture’s peace and compassion in ways previously unimaginable.

A great read for Tibetophiles old and new.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-46095-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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