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Memories of Life in Lhasa Under Chinese Rule Hardcover – December 20, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0231142861 ISBN-10: 0231142862

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Editorial Reviews


Demonstrates in full detail the human tragedy of Maoist rule in a land whose tradition it despised and tried to destroy.

(Kirkus Reviews)

A welcome and informative addition on this little-understood and highly polemicized subject.

(George Fitzherbert Times Literary Supplement)

This book provides an important piece of the puzzle for those seeking to understand the experience of ordinary Tibetans since 1959.

(Rick Carew Far Eastern Economic Review)

evocatively written and beautifully translated

(China Review International 1900-01-00)

A powerful indictment of the physical and psychological exploitation of the Tibetan people and natural environment in the service of building a "new" China.

(Benno Ryan Weiner The Journal of Asian Studies 1900-01-00)


A tremendously moving and important document. Tubten Khétsun modestly claims that his is not a tale of greatness, heroism, nor historical significance but the story of an ordinary Tibetan who lived a life of 'animal servitude' under Communist Chinese rule. Yet the straightforward, rancor-free recounting of the banal details of 'normal' life in occupied Tibet gives this work the kind of compelling verisimilitude of Solzhynitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

(Jamyang Norbu, author of Warriors of Tibet: The Story of Aten and the Khampas' Fight for the Freedom of Their Country)|

Memories of Life in Lhasa Under Chinese Rule provides the most detailed account to date of life in Tibet during the period between 1959 and 1979. Devastating in both his detachment and in his detail, 'class enemy' Tubten Khétsun chronicles the quotidian horrors suffered by the citizens of Lhasa during two of the darkest decades in Tibet's long history.

(Donald S. Lopez, Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies, University of Michigan)|

This is the first unmediated, single-authored autobiography to appear in English by a Tibetan who lived through Lhasa's gulag era of the 1960s and 1970s. Tubten Khétsun, an officer in the former Tibetan government, is an assiduous and unflinching chronicler of events and their details. He has produced a book that has little trace of the rhetoric or emotion of nationalist loss. Instead, he offers a painstaking, unvarnished account of the everyday mechanics of socialist transformation as he experienced it in Tibet. The result, in this meticulous translation, is a new and important source for understanding modern Tibeto-Chinese history as seen by inhabitants of the Tibetan capital.

(Robert Barnett, director, Modern Tibetan Studies Program, Columbia University)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (December 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231142862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231142861
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,183,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Wilson C. Hurley on March 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Tubten Khetsun provides a remarkably detailed and vivid account of what Tibetans have undergone during and following the brutal take over of their land by China during the period between 1959-1979. He takes you in with him during his struggle to survive in what has been the darkest period of Tibet's history and leaves you amazed and grateful in his personal victory and emancipation while simulataneously feeling open-hearted for the terrible suffering that the Tibetans have undergone. This is not only of interest from a hisorical perspective, but more importantly, from a humanitarian's a must read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jakub Smutny on August 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent journey into the beginning of cultural genocide started by the Chinese in Tibet in late 1950s. It gives an incredibly vivid picture of the degree of suffering Tibetan people had to go through during the height of the atrocious Cultural Revolution.

An indispensable read for anyone who wishes to understand the circumstances under which China annexed the Himalayan nation. The extent to which the Chinese managed to implement their radical communist ideals is also indicative of the bloody foundations modern Chinese state is based upon.
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