When The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama was published it was a best seller and a discussion catalyst thrusting the matter of Tibet's independence and struggle on to the dinner tables of many an educated household. It's also a well written and candidly insightful story about a fascinating peace-loving man, the fourteenth Dalai Lama.
What's it all about? So, basically the Dalai Lama is a really, really decent guy and Nepal based US journalist chanced upon the opportunity to spend sixty hours in conversation with him over the course of three years. Laird's goal was to learn and tell more about the history of Tibet and he does this predominantly through telling the stories of the lives of previous Dalai Lamas with a deliberate focus on ancient and recent historic events that have ultimately led to Tibet's recent plight. First published in 2006 it sadly captures today's remaining uncertainty about what the eventual solution will be.
What's so good about it? Laird's experience and knowledge of the subject matter shines through, as do his typical journalistic traits as at times he dares to challenge arguably one of the most respected men in the world. What I liked most were the insights to the Dalai Lama as a human being with human vices (he used to love driving old Western cars around his compound prior to his exile in 1959) and a self-deprecating sense of humour.
Who, me? I'll be honest and say I knew relatively little about Tibet and more ashamedly about the Buddhist religion and this book afforded me an education on both. If you have an inkling of an interest in Tibet or the Dalai Lama, this should be one of the first books you turn to.
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Frances M. Thompson
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