Saturday, 29 March 2008

The Dalai Lama Story: The Making of a World Leader Andrew Crowe, Longacre, 2007, 192 pages, paperback, NZ$29.99
ISBN 1-877361-83-8

Andrew Crowe is a New Zealand writer best known for his award-winning natural history books but this biography of the 14th Dalai Lama makes good use of his talent for explaining complex issues.

The life story of the Tibetan spiritual leader and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is framed within a discussion Crowe had with a young Chinese woman, on the roof of a Lhasa temple, about the 1951 Chinese invasion of Tibet. While this book may not be welcome in China, it provides an excellent introduction for young readers into the boyhood and adult life of the world’s most famous and influential refugee. The principles and practices of Tibetan Buddhism are presented, along with the reasons for the Chinese opposition to them. The historical background is well sketched in (although much of Heinrich Harrer’s story is there because it is interesting rather than important).

The account of Crowe’s own meeting and his sometimes hilarious conversation with the Dalai Lama adds to the book’s readable nature. This richly illustrated volume, produced by Dunedin’s Longacre Press, includes fact boxes, maps, a timeline and suggestions for further reading.

It deserves a wide readership.

Trevor Agnew's review was first published in The Press, Christchurch, New Zealand on 23rd June 2007.

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