January 24, 2011

Escape from the Land of Snow (Updated)

The strangest fact about the Dalai Lama’s strange life, writes Jeffrey Paines in his Washington Post review of four books on the subject, is that it remains largely untold. “Most books promoted as biographies of him hardly qualify as such and are indeed no more revealing than Testu Saiwai’s recent manga, or cartoon, biography. That’s why, according to the reviewer, of the recent attempts to provide insight into the Dalai Lama, the most effective one is Stephan Talty’s Escape from the Land of Snows.

After all “Talty has actually written three books in one: a biography of the young Dalai Lama up to his 24th year (1959), a history of recent Tibet and a hair-raising tale of daring and escape. The last of these makes Talty’s story come alive—and made the Dalai Lama the man he is today.“

Not that the other books aren’t worth reading, but, you know, time is a tyrant and you can’t read everything you’d like to read. However, the other books are The Essence of Happiness (and the best-selling The Art of Happiness from which it is excerpted), and My Spiritual Journey—unfortunately the Dalai Lama did not write, or apparently read, any of the first, nor of the second, while the third has a misleading title, for it is no autobiography...


UPDATE January 30, 12:30 pm

The author of Escape from the Land of Snow on his own book at The Huffington Post.