On the evening of March 17, 1959, as the people of Tibet braced for a violent power grab by Chinese occupiers—one that would forever wipe out any vestige of national sovereignty—the 24-year-old Dalai Lama, Tibet’s political and spiritual leader, contemplated the impossible. The task before him was immense: to slip past a cordon of crack Chinese troops ringing his summer palace and, with an escort of 300, journey across the highest terrain in the world and over treacherous Himalayan passes to freedom—one step ahead of pursuing Chinese soldiers.
Mao Zedung, China’s ruthless Communist dictator, had pinned his hopes for total Tibetan submission on controlling the impressionable Dalai Lama. So beloved was the young ruler—so identified with his country’s essence—that for him to escape might mean perpetual resistance from a population unwilling to tolerate an increasingly brutal occupation. The Dalai Lama’s minders sent word to the Tibetan rebels and CIA-trained guerrillas who waited on the route: His Holiness must escape—at all costs.
In many ways, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was unprepared for the epic journey awaiting him. Twenty-two years earlier, government search parties, guided by prophecies and omens, had arrived at the boy’s humble peasant home and subjected the two-year-old to a series of tests. After being declared the reincarnation of Tibet’s previous ruler, the boy was brought to Lhasa to learn the secrets of Buddhism and the ways of ultimate power. Forced in the ensuing two decades to cope with aching loneliness and often stifling ritual—and compelled to suppress his mischievous personality—Gyatso eventually proved himself a capable leader. But no previous Dalai Lama had ever taken on a million Communist Chinese soldiers bent on stamping out Tibetan freedom.
"Skillful...Talty has woven a vivid picture of a dangerous journey and a country in crisis." (Publishers Weekly)
"Riveting, informed...A great read for Tibetophiles old and new." (Kirkus Reviews)
“It was perhaps history's most momentous escape: the Dalai Lama fleeing over the roof of the world from Mao's advancing troops. I loved losing myself in Escape from the Land of Snows and you will too.” (James Bradley, New York Times best seller author of Flags of Our Fathers, Flyboys, and The Imperial Cruise)
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The courageous escape of a mystical icon
I have been listening to whatever audiobooks I can find featuring the Dalai Lama but this one provided me with a full picture of his life and the history of the interaction between China and Tibet that I was not able to find elsewhere. By escaping Tibet, the Dalai Lama left his "golden cage" to be a worldwide advocate for compassion. Steven Talty did a great job with the story too. I have been a fan of his after listening to 'Empire of the Blue Water'. This is an audiobook that I'll never forget. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, and the conflict between China and Tibet.