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Sky Train: Tibetan Women on the Edge of History

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  82 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
"In her remarkable book, writer and activist Sam examines the stories of varied Tibetan women---displaced aristocrats, impassioned freedom fighters, educators, and others—--united in their desperation to reclaim their country. Over a period of years, Sam recorded stories of life under Chinese occupation, visiting her subjects by China’s new “sky train.” A third-generation ...more
Paperback, 271 pages
Published August 28th 2009 by University of Washington Press (first published 2009)
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Jan 05, 2014 Angie rated it it was amazing
"Women are never afraid. No matter what the Chinese do. Women do what the Chinese don't want them to do, like chant and shout slogans. In prison, the guards could punish us, they could beat us, but we still shouted slogans. We never stayed quiet, we wanted to say more. We wanted to do it again. Our mouths got bigger! We became more determined." - Sonam Choedron

Tibet is the "roof of the world" that teeters dangerously close to falling off the global map, despite the protests of March 2008, despit
Jan 21, 2010 Stephanie rated it really liked it
I came across a recommendation for this book and I admit being somewhat jaded about it at the onset. The author's experiences led her to conduct a sort of oral history project over many years with the intention of riting a book to document the experiences of Tibetan women especially during the time of the Communist invasion.

I had some notion that this might turn out to be one of those rather syrupy women's studies sorts of books, with a bit of religious tourism as a veneer and a nod to social c
Padri Veum
Jun 16, 2016 Padri Veum rated it it was amazing
Canyon Sam has done some very fine writing in this book. Over the space of two decades, Sam visits Tibet, Nepal and India, meeting Tibetan women who survived the 1959 invasion by Tibet by China--and the subsequent decades of imprisonment, torture, disappearances and genocide and diaspora. All throughout her book, these stories of Sam's travels as a Chinese-American in the Himalayas never become sentimental. Each chapter is incisive, as if it's been written to save a life--to deliver something, s ...more
Apr 18, 2010 Malinda rated it it was ok
It is unfortunate that this author largely discarded a collection of Tibetan oral histories in favor of a twitchy and repetitive narrative centered on herself.
Sep 15, 2015 Colin rated it it was ok
At several points in this book, the author says she tried out many formats for this material before she hit on one a publisher would actually take forward. That does not speak very highly of acquisitions editors.

The core of this book are a series of paraphrased interviews with Tibetan women, who represent a wide array of experiences both in Tibet before the Chinese invasion of 1959, and in the Tibetan diaspora communities. The stories of these women are compelling, and important. This book, by
Michele Benson
Jul 15, 2014 Michele Benson rated it liked it
I learned a lot about Tibet. As usual, women are left to save the culture. Summary: Monks and men flee the country, women and children are imprisoned and tortured. Why? It is against their religion to travel with women. So, take the monks to safety, leave the women to fend for themselves. I liked the parts containing the Dali Lamas teaching " refuse to injure others, keep your heart clean, keep the vision, be free." I just think there should be something in there about protecting those in your c ...more
Kathleen Hagen
Sky Train: Tibetan Women on the Edge of History, by Camyon Sam, Narrated by Donna Postel, Produced by University Press Audio Books, Downloaded from

Publisher’s note: Through a lyrical narrative of her journey to Tibet in 2007, activist Canyon Sam contemplates modern history from the perspective of Tibetan women. Traveling
on China's new "Sky Train", she celebrates Tibetan New Year with the Lhasa family, whom she'd befriended decades earlier, and concludes an oral-history
project with w
May 05, 2010 Jane added it
This book taught me that no matter how much I am aligned with a writers' political viewpoint, I don't like being told over and over again how correct I am. There were passages describing Tibet that were beautiful--but when Sam began to describe how horrible the Chinese are as a nation, i found myself skimming and getting irritated. This is, in essence, a travel book. At her best, Sam shows me a world that is enticing and erratic, indescribable and fascinating. When she concentrates on her intera ...more
Carolyn Johnson
Jul 24, 2010 Carolyn Johnson rated it it was amazing
A moving book about the lives of four Tibetan women under Chinese oppression. We learn about the vanishing culture of Tibet, following the women's lives as their world changes.

The Sky Train of the title refers to the railroad built by the Chinese to bring Han immigrants into Tibet and drain resources out of Tibet. The author took the train to Lhasa to revisit the women she had interviewed years earlier, and learns thru their stories, that despite all the terrible oppression, for the survival of
Jan 07, 2013 Norbu added it
The real inspiring stories of Tibetan woman made me a proud Tibetan woman and moved my spirit to further towards our aspiration.

Canyon Sam (Writer and she is Chinese); She has my whole respect and gratitude for her everlasting support for the cause of Tibet and her works.

I brought the book seeing the book title and writer’s photo (whom I thought was Tibetan), now that I have finished reading it, she sure is a Tibetan; a real spirited woman and amazing writer
caryl Fairfull
Oct 18, 2014 caryl Fairfull rated it really liked it
Good book that brings to light the suffering of Tibet during the take over by China. The author updates her original story by revisiting on the Sky Train. The three women who are the framework of the story were amazing and the story was well told.
Dec 08, 2009 Shar rated it it was amazing
I'm biased, because Canyon Sam (author) is my cousin. But this is an extremely well-written book that will grab your interest and make you care about Tibet. My book club read it and had a great discussion with the author.
Marsha Altman
Sep 16, 2013 Marsha Altman rated it liked it
This book spent a little too much time discussing the author's travels and not enough time actually talking about the women she interviewed.
Nov 05, 2011 Marjie rated it really liked it
An amazing story. So sad, yet so much hope.
Apr 18, 2010 Eleanor rated it really liked it
I am always moved by books like this.
Kevin Fernandes-Prabhu
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Jun 09, 2016
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Jun 01, 2016
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Michele Karmartsang rated it it was amazing
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Canyon Sam is a San Francisco writer, performance artist, and Tibet activist. Her one-woman show The Dissident was critically acclaimed in the Village Voice and the Boston Globe. Sky Train is her first book."
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