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Seven Years in Tibet

Seven Years in Tibet


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Originally published in 1953, this adventure classic recounts Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer's 1943 escape from a British internment camp in India, his daring trek across the Himalayas, and his happy sojourn in Tibet, then, as now, a remote land little visited by foreigners. Warmly welcomed, he eventually became tutor to the Dalai Lama, teenaged god-king of the theocratic nation. The author's vivid descriptions of Tibetan rites and customs capture its unique traditions before the Chinese invasion in 1950, which prompted Harrer's departure. A 1996 epilogue details the genocidal havoc wrought over the past half-century.

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Really Captivating

I myself am not a good reader, particularly since I hated reading at an early age. I have never read a book for any reason other than homework, and even then skipped pages. However I decided to give this book a try (I remembered the title as a movie). So I started reading the book in the library and decided to buy it the very next day. I'm a slow reader but the story was so interesting it didn't matter how long I spent reading it. The first few chapters are very similar; sometimes you might get the feeling that you already read a completely new page, but it's still very interesting. Later when Harrer writes about the villages and culture of Tibet, the reader (at least I did) feels like they could be there in the mountains and see these sites. The description of the palaces, monasteries, and common households make you want to visit that remote corner of the world. The most interesting parts of the book described future telling oracles who's spirits could escape their body, the Dalai Lama, and the hospitality that Harrer and his friend, Aufcshnaiter, received entering as fugitives. At the end of the book I felt a lot of sympathy for Tibet (reading in the Epilogue about how many monasteries were destroyed by China). This book was really moving. The way a fugitive from the West is kindly accepted and moves up in society on the "Roof of the World" is unbelievable and it makes a great, true, story. I'm going to read it again soon. It is a true epic.

Pleasant reading

Not being a writer, Harrer has created a very pleasant book describing his years as a prisoner in India, his escapes, and his travels through Tibet as he and his companion Aufschnaiter try to reach Tibet's forbidden city, Lhasa. The narrative is smooth, making the reader walk with them as they deceive Tibet's authorities and thieves, finding friendship among the nomads, spending months across the country. Reaching Lhasa, the story changes to the way of life of the Tibetans, and his own, as he comes to consider Tibet his new home. He is able to picture the religious festivities, the fundaments of their budhaism, the social skills, the way the people see their God-king, the Dalai Lama. The only part of the story I think is not well developed enough is his relationship with the Dalai Lama, he spents only the last final two chapters with it. The end of the book is a little too quick, which represents the way he was forced by the chinese to leave Tibet. A very good book, and one can learn a lot about Tibet with it. The real stuff, not the kind of things you hear when some fancy movie star says he's budhist.

Seven Years in Tibet, Life Experience

Three months after finishing and putting down the book, I'm still so inspired by the whole Heinrich Harrer tale and his experience in Tibet. This is the coming about of the second review of the book.The book starts off at the outbreak of World War II. Heinrich Harrer and his mountain climbing associates, while attemtping the Nanga Parbat mountain, were arrested by the British and were imprisoned in Indian internment camp located near the border with Tibet. After securing enough life necessities and supplies, Harrer and his friend Peter Aufschnaiter escaped and set out for the Indian-Tibetan border. The road to Lhasa was strenuous, arduous, and painful. Harrer and Aufschnaiter struggled with winter blizzard, depleting supplies, mountain sickness, and even risk of robbers. They had to obtain license upon arrival in unexplored territory. They risked the refusal to enter Tibet without a permit. They risked their life as their supplies won't last for the trip. Upon arrival into the country, they were greeted with curiosity, meticulousness, guard, and warmth. They were housed in government mansion; treated sumptuous Tibetan meal; tailored expensive hand-crafted embroidered wardrobe. From day to day throng of visitors came visit these newly-arrived foreigners. Heinrich Harrer lived in Lhasa for almost 5 years. He performed plumbing and other technical servies for his friends and government officials. He taught children how to read and write English. He introduced ice-skating to Tibetans by sticking a knife underneath the boots. The most significant portion of this book is the detailed yet sentimental description of Harrer's relationship with the young Dalai Lama. Harrer recalled spending days and days at Dalai's summer palace and in Potola Palace teaching him English, talking to him about politics and building the first "home entertainment center". They even made a film together and showed the film to the monks. Harrer was even permitted to film the Dalai processional in New Year. Harrer had built a deep friendship with Dalai and his people, one of which Harrer never had expected. Harrer stayed in Tibet until the time when the Chinese was ready to take over Tibet. This book is filled with heart warming anecdotes, scenes of Tibetan lives and people. It has temendously inspired me to visit Tibet one day and experience for myself. Highly recommended.

a real "Indiana Jones"

This is a truely fascinating autobiography. His escapes from the prisoners' camp during the war and the adventures on the way to the forbidden Lhasa by foot really match an "Indiana Jones" fiction, just that it is real and only happened 50 years ago. Harrer has a very ofjective style of writing, although the German he uses is a little bit old fashioned and as he is not a writer, his style is not very poetic. Nevertheless, for someone interested in Tibet, it gives an authentic and unmystified picture of what this country looked like before the occupation. Read it as an amazing lifestory and insight in a unique culture.

Window to Tibet and a great real life experience.

I am a Tibetan, born in Tibet, I grew up India and now I live in Boston.I read Seven years in Tibet when I was in school in India some 24 years ago.I immensely liked the book and the sense of adventure,hope and uncertainty that Heinrich Harrer and his companion Peter were facing or about to face then.When my family escaped the communist Chinese invasion of our Country,our home and our way of life, I was then very little.I knew then something very bad was happening, because my family members were packing and getting ready to go somewhere. I did not know then where we were headed.Seven years in Tibet opened my eyes about my country, my religon, my family,my leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, my identity and above all the great adventure and hardship the author and his friend were going through. After I read Seven years in Tibet, I recommended the book to my friends and was telling them the story.When I heard last year that Seven years in Tibet was being made a Hollywood film, I was thrilled.I thought if the film maker did a good job then the film would be a hit.The Film would portray Tibetan culture,way of life,Buddism in Tibet and the political situation in Tibet before and after the Chinese communist's PLA invasion. I saw the film couple times but it was not as good as I expected. Never the less, I am still recommending the book and film to my friends, who are curious, want to know more about Tibet,Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhism.The book and the film will do a lot of good for the Tibetan cause.It will publicise the plight of Tibetan and Tibet.The film has some shortcomings but then something is better than nothing at least.

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