About The Book

Over the course of three years, journalist Thomas Laird spent more than sixty hours with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in candid, intimate interviews discussing His Holiness’s beliefs about history, science, reincarnation, and Buddhism. They looked at the ways in which Tibetans see their own history, and how the Chinese of the past and today see that same history differently. Through these conversations, Laird and the Dalai Lama laid the cornerstones of a popular history of Tibet, something that has not been done with a Dalai Lama since the 1600s. Between interviews, Laird traveled across great distances in Tibet: the narrative is interspersed with vivid descriptions of Tibet’s greatest monasteries and sparkles with the Dalai Lama’s unique sense of humor.

Laird brings his meetings with the Dalai Lama to life in a vibrant historical narrative that outlines the essence of thousands of years of civilization, myth and spirituality. In lively conversation, the two explore Tibet’s relations with the Mongols; the Golden Age under the Great Fifth Dalai Lama; Tibet’s years under Manchu overlords; the four decades of modern independence in the early half of the twentieth century; and finally the Dalai Lama’s meetings with Mao Tse-tung, just before His Holiness fled into exile in 1959.

“A thoughtful dialogue… about Tibet’s past not simply as a sequence of events, but as seen through the perspectives of myth, spirituality, morality, human frailty and fate… will deepen general readers’ knowledge of Tibet, its religion and its engaging leader.”
– Kirkus Reviews