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The Dragon in the Land of Snows

Shakya, Tsering

139 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0231118147 / ISBN 13: 9780231118149
Published by Columbia University Press, New York, 1999
Used Condition: Fine Hardcover
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1.61 x 9.23 x 6.32 Inches; 606 pages. Bookseller Inventory # 13461

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Dragon in the Land of Snows

Publisher: Columbia University Press, New York

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First US Edition; First Printing.

About this title


Since 1950, Tibet has been sandwiched between the heavyweights of Asian geopolitics: Britain, absolving itself of its colonial dominion; India, finding its legs as a newly independent nation; China, seeking to simultaneously consolidate its new communist regime and engender a "motherland"; and the United States, striving to contain the perceived threat of international communism. Tsering Shakya here gives a balanced, blow-by-blow account of Tibet's desperate attempts to maintain her independence and safeguard her cultural identity.

The Dragon in the Land of Snows provides

· the first detailed account of the behind-the-scenes political developments in Tibet and the Tibetan, Chinese, and British personalities involved;

· the first complete account of the CIA's involvement in Tibet and the establishment of a secret military base in the Nepalese Himalayas;

· the first description of Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru's involvement following the Chinese invasion, and his failure to recognize the truth of what was happening in Tibet;

· the first account of the power struggles during the Cultural Revolution and of the mass uprising against the Chinese that has remained secret until now;

· the first detailed account of the negotiations between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government during the late 1970s and early 1980s; and

· the first full assessment of the agenda behind the current and future developments in Tibet.

With careful and thorough documentation, the author details the Chinese depredations of Tibet and the many concomitant shifts in policy and political fortune. However, he also reveals the failures of the Tibetan leadership's myopic and divided strategies to engage the Chinese by on the one hand pursuing a policy of coexistence with communist China and on the other trying to preserve her unique identity as a Buddhist state under the leadership of the Dalai Lama.

Charting a clear course through the intricacies of the historical record, Shakya lucidly depicts the tragedy that has befallen Tibet and outlines the conflicting geopolitical forces that continue to shape the aspirations of the Tibetan people to this day.


Long isolated by virtue of its remoteness and its government's suspicion of outsiders, Tibet was drawn a century ago into an uneasy alliance with Great Britain. In the bargain, the British gained a buffer state between its Indian colonies and China, while the Tibetans gained some measure of protection against Chinese encroachment. With the end in 1947 of British rule in India, Tibet was left defenseless, and China lost no time in claiming Tibet as its own, invading the mountainous kingdom in 1949. China has ruled Tibet as a colony ever since, settling ever larger numbers of ethnic Chinese there in order to establish a majority over the original occupants.

Thanks to the decades-long efforts of the exiled Dalai Lama, the Tibetan demand for sovereignty is well known throughout the world today. Readers seeking a deeper understanding of the complex political relationships that obtain between China and Tibet, and between both countries and the rest of the world, now have a thoroughly documented, accessible guide in Tsering Shakya's Dragon in the Land of Snows. Though far from nonpartisan--Shakya, too, pleads the cause of Tibetan independence--the book covers much unfamiliar ground while attempting to understand China's persistent claims of rule. China is unlikely to give up Tibet willingly, he concludes, for to do so would entail loss of face for the nationalists who now rule in Beijing.

No other book offers as comprehensive a picture of modern Tibetan history, and Shakya's work contributes much to the debate over that sad nation's future. --Gregory McNamee

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