Tibet, Tibet by Patrick French
A Personal History of a Lost Land

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When Patrick French was a teenager, the Dalai Lama visited his school in northern England. Fascinated by this exotic apparition, French began what was to become a lifelong quest to understand Tibet, the myth and the fact. He would immerse himself in the history, travel as the guest of ordinary Tibetans–nuns, nomads, and exiles–and organize Free Tibet activists from an office in London. Now he gives us a kaleidoscopic account of that journey.
Part memoir, part travel book, part history, Tibet, Tibet ventures beyond our world-weary fantasies to discover the truth behind a culture’s struggle for survival. In French’s narrative, a land adored for peaceful spirituality reveals its surprising early history of fierce war-making. Here as well are the centuries-old legends of how Tibetan diplomats maneuvered deftly at the Chinese court, legends that inform to this day each people’s view of the other. A perennial vassal state, Tibet nevertheless managed to preserve its distinctive culture for centuries–until the twentieth, when everything was destroyed with devastating speed by Mao’s overwhelming forces.

Today, as Chinese tourists take snapshots and buy kitsch at Tibetan monasteries, young nuns quietly continue the underground fight against Communist rule. In Dharamsala, over cappuccino, exiled monks pitch their cause to Western pilgrims decked out in gaudy robes. Tibetans recall the terrible days of the Great Leap Forward and eagerly ask French for news of the Dalai Lama. In the presence of this internationally revered spiritual and political leader, French retains a measure of his youthful amazement, but finally, inescapably, he comes to disturbing conclusions about His Holiness’s role in his people’s collective tragedy.

With immense learning and a clear but compassionate eye, Patrick French gives us a sober new understanding of a culture’s senseless catastrophe and allows us to see what realistically can–and cannot–be done to alleviate it.

About Patrick French

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Patrick French was born in England in 1966 and studied literature at Edinburgh University. He is the author of Younghusband; Liberty or Death; Tibet, Tibet; and The World Is What It Is, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Hawthornden Prize. French is the winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, the Royal Society of Literature Heinemann Prize, and the Somerset Maugham Award.

Author Residence: London, UK
Published January 1, 2003 by Knopf. 352 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Education & Reference, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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After extensive travel in the varied landscapes of Tibet, British journalist French (Liberty or Death, 1997, etc.) concludes that no freedom can come to this fabled land until liberty first invades and then pervades China.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Tibet, Tibet: A Personal Hist...

The Guardian

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Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land by Patrick French 333pp, HarperCollins, £20 Let's start with some facts.

May 31 2003 | Read Full Review of Tibet, Tibet: A Personal Hist...

The Guardian

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Tibet, Tibet by Patrick French HarperCollins £20, pp352 In 1904, after a campaign in which thousands of poorly armed Tibetans were killed, the imperial adventurer Sir Francis Younghusband arrived at the gates of the holy city of Lhasa.

Apr 06 2003 | Read Full Review of Tibet, Tibet: A Personal Hist...

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