Demystifying Tibet: Unlocking the Secrets of the Land of the Snows English Language Edition

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1566630894
ISBN-10: 1566630894
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Historian and China expert Feigon succeeds in doing just what his title suggests: he cuts through the mist of romanticism that surrounds Tibet and reveals the truth about its long and fascinating history. Tibet is not the Shangri-la of Western fantasy, nor was it ever part of China as the Chinese claim to justify their invasion of Tibet some 45 years ago. As Feigon spins Tibet's colorful tale, the vast cultural divide between the Tibetans and the Chinese becomes increasingly evident. Ethnically distinct, they are also radically different in terms of personal habits, social interactions, and spirituality. Lively and descriptive, Feigon adeptly chronicles the rise of the monastic tradition and the achievements of such Tibetan leaders as the revered kings Songsten Gampo and Trisong Detsen and influential Dalai Lamas, including the Great Fifth, who ruled during the seventeenth century, and today's Nobel Peace Prize^-winning Fourteenth. Feigon's book is invaluable on many fronts, but most important is its documentation of the damage the Chinese are doing not only to Tibetan culture, but also to the region's ecosystem, which is crucial to the health of the planet. Donna Seaman

Review

Invaluable on many fronts...important in its documentation of the damage. (Booklist )

Vivid, picturesque...a fine account of the country's history, government, politics, geology, language, religion and customs. (Publishers Weekly )

An impeccably researched, spirited history of the forces that shaped today's Tibet. (Kirkus Reviews )
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee; English Language edition (November 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566630894
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566630894
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,545,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
I bought this book prior to making a trip to Tibet in 1999, and found it to be invaluable in helping me to understand the history and culture of the amazing place I was to visit. Feigon takes the reader through Tibet's long history, from the time of conquering Tibetan kings to the present. But rather than delivering a dry historical narrative, the author weaves in much about Tibetan culture, such as the role of women in society and the importance of religion to people's lives. As I toured Tibet and listened to the "Chinese version" of Tibetan history, it was helpful to have read this book in order to better understand the complex reality of Tibet's historical experiences. Feignon strives for balance, and shows that while Tibet is clearly not "an inalienable part of China", neither is it the Shangri-la of Hollywood movie stars or teen rock idols. He criticizes the Western image of Tibetans as innocent victims, painting a bigger picture of Tibet's complex--and not always pleasant--history. But despite this effort to achieve balance, the author's animosity toward China comes through loud and clear. While many of his criticisms seem justified, his bias causes him to gloss over some aspects of Tibet's history. The Chinese, for example, make much of having "liberated" Tibetans from serfdom, and indeed, it would have been useful to know more about what really happened. Yet Feigon devotes only one paragraph to describing the feudal system which dominated most people's lives in Tibet prior to 1950. Nevertheless, reading this book helps one to understand that the future of Tibet cannot simply be a return to the theocratic system of the early 20th century. Mr. Feigon's book does much to de-bunk the simplistic myths that have grown up around Tibet, propagated (mainly) by China but also by those who claim Tibet's cause as their own.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Leslie S. Gn on October 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Lee Feigon's 'Demystifying Tibet: Unlocking the Secrets of the Land of the Snows' is an excellent source book that provides interesting information about Tibetan history, geography, culture, and religion. This is a 'must-read' book for anyone interested in Tibet, or have plans to visit this fascinating country. The author adopts a very 'reader friendly' style, which does not over simplify or compromise his writing. This is probably one of the best general introduction books on Tibet that I have read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By kennedy19 on February 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book is apt, for it serves as a handy quick introduction to the vast sweep of Tibetan history, disclosing a land that is not simply the mystical shangri-la we often imagine it is. Like many western readers, I knew next to nothing of the history of Tibet and central asia before the Chinese takeover. The first few chapters here do a good job of outlining this subject, all the while leading up to the author's central thesis that Tibet has historically been separate from China, both politically and culturally. However, political history is seldom cut and dried, and as we move towards the twentieth century we see how British, Russian, and Chinese imperialist politics combined with divisions and corruptions inside Tibet to seal the fate of this isolated country. It was eye-opening to see Tibet as not merely a hapless victim of a cruel invasion, but also as an active, humanly flawed player in the region's mutable history. The author is a college professor but his writing is easily accessible to a general audience.
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