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Red Shambhala: Magic, Prophecy, and Geopolitics in the Heart of Asia

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  48 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Many know of Shambhala, the Tibetan Buddhist legendary land of spiritual bliss popularized by the [date] film, Shangri-La. But few may know of the role Shambhala played in Russian geopolitics in the early twentieth century. Perhaps the only one on the subject, Andrei Znamenski’s book presents a wholly different glimpse of early Soviet history both erudite and fascinating. ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 1st 2011 by Quest Books (first published June 1st 2011)
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3.96  · 
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 ·  48 ratings  ·  14 reviews

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Tim Pendry
Red Shambhala adds useful information about esotericism during the early Soviet experiment and the Great Game in Central Asia in the 1920s and about the theosophical egoism of Nicholas Roerich.

What it is less good at it, though scholarly and well written, is tying these threads together into some sort of analysis of what was going on in all these theatres - and how they relate.

There are fuller stories to be told of the high point of theosophical political influence in the West and the survival o
Alex Sarll
An account of several overlapping attempts to forge common cause between Communism and Tibetan Buddhism by assorted nuts, chancers, pan-Mongol nationalists and (saddest, these) true believers in the original values of socialism who realised the bloody, anti-intellectual chaos into which Russia so rapidly descended post-Revolution was not bringing the workers' paradise any closer. At the hub of them all was the myth of Shambhala - the lost Himalayan paradise which also inspired the Western Shangr ...more
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
When Europe failed to follow Russia's steps into Bolshevism and Mongolia turned out to be the first non-Soviet recruit to the cause, much of the revolutionary effort was directed east. 'Setting the East Ablaze' by Peter Hopkirk and other books tell this story. Still other books about the Whites and the occult connections of fascism tell the story of how the other side was really into New Agey Willfolk UrThrust and bizarre pseudo-cult views of eastern spiritualism. But none in English talk about ...more
Joe Collins
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I will admit that the title had me hesitant about reading it because I thought it would be something where the author really believed in the esoteric occult and that this would be more like, “Chariots of the Gods” historical research. Actually, it comes off as a serious research on the geopolitical manipulation of the Tibetans and Mongols by the Bolsheviks and Nicholas Roerich in the early 1920s using the Shambhala prophecies. It is an easy read for laymen and not a boring, scholarly text. The a ...more
Nov 26, 2017 rated it liked it
The collective quest undertaken in the early decades of the twentieth century by disparate cliques of spiritual seekers and utopian reformers to rediscover and make manifest for the benefit of their own societies an ancient, esoteric Eastern wisdom is part tragedy, part shaggy dog story. In their attempts to appropriate for their own universalizing geopolitical ends the messianic prophecies of Inner Asia's indigenous peoples, mystically inclined idealists within the state apparatus of the nascen ...more
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very interesting look at many of the Russian figures who became enmeshed in the Central Asian Great Game of the 1920s. It also serves as a counterpoint to the glut of books and TV shows on 'Nazis and the occult ' As Znamenski often points out, in the early 20th century, fascination with theosophy, spiritualism and the occult was widespread across America, Europe and even among the anti-religious Bolsheviks.
Seth Augenstein
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the great historical explorations of this decade. So much great information conveyed in a crystalline and sparkling narrative. A real gem.
Charlie Huenemann
Nov 29, 2016 rated it liked it
After the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, the new Soviet Union had to set about establishing relations with its geographic neighbors. With China and British-ruled India nearby, Kazakhstan, Tibet, Tuva, and Mongolia became hotly contested territories. Znamenski's book provides a handy overview of the strategies and tensions, the ploys and subterfuges. But in the middle of it all was magic and prophecy. Tibet was rumored to be the home of Shambhala, a utopia of mages with secret knowledge and magica ...more
Andrei Znamenski's Red Shambhala is a fascinating history of Russia's involvement in the Great Game/Tournament of Shadows in Central Asia [most especially Tibet and Mongolia] during the 1920s and 1930s. There are a wild collection of romantic adventurers and spiritual eccentrics to be found here.

The book is best during the opening chapters dealing with a historical background for the Tibetan/Mongolian myth of Shambhala and its historical significance, as well as the Soviet interest in Central A
bernard underwood


I heard about this book from a pod cast called stuff they don't want you to know. I really dig anything about shambhala and discoveries of lost culture s
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
An enjoyable conspectus of occultist goings - on in post-revolutionary Russia, Tbiet and Mongolia. Academically slight, however.
Nick Arnold
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Mixture of anecdotes about Bolshevik and other endeavours to revolutionise Inner Asia using Bhuddist legends.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
An interesting review of the use of the concept of Shambala tp gain political influence over Central Asia & Tibet.
Oct 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book. Kind of like a communist version of Kipling's "Kim".
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Andrei Znamenski, a native of Russia, has studied history and anthropology both in Russia and the United States. Formerly a resident scholar at the Library of Congress, then a foreign visiting professor at Hokkaido University, Japan, he has taught various history courses at Russian and American universities. Among them are World Civilizations, Russian history, and the History of Religions.
“When the old Bogdo had died from old age and numerous ailments in 1924, the Red Mongols and their Moscow patrons immediately sensed that this was a perfect occasion to end the Buddhist theocracy in Mongolia and replace it with a normal Red dictatorship. They forbade the search for a new reincarnation: lamas and the nomadic populace were surprised to find out that the deceased reincarnation was to be the last. The Red Mongols explained that Bogdo was now reborn as a great general in Shambhala, and there was no point in searching for a new reincarnation since henceforth Bogdo's permanent abode would be this magic kingdom, not the earthly realm.” 0 likes
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