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Tibet: A History

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Situated north of the Himalayas, Tibet is famous for its unique culture and its controversial assimilation into modern China. Yet Tibet in the twenty-first century can only be properly understood in the context of its extraordinary history.

Sam van Schaik brings the history of Tibet to life by telling the stories of the people involved, from the glory days of the Tibetan
Hardcover, 324 pages
Published June 28th 2011 by Yale University Press (first published May 2011)
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  201 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Max Nemtsov
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buddha-mind, far-east
Прекрасный учебник истории — примерно как вернуться в пятый класс и читать истории про разных древних людей просто так, без дурацких вопросов в конце каждой главы.
Однако все равно все лучше бы воспринимать с известной долей скепсиса. Например, автор пишет нам, что геше Вангъял в 1951 году свинтил из СССР в США (где потом и основал первый буддистский монастырь и т.д.). Хотелось бы мне посмотреть, конечно, как ему это удалось. На самом же деле (так вышло, что я немного чего-то про это знаю), не в
It's hard to know what to think of a Tibet scholar whose Tibet history begins with an attempt to obfuscate the actual geographic location of his subject. Van Schaik's book on the history of Tibet begins in the preface with "Where is Tibet?" and proceeds to call into question not only where Tibet is located but also how Tibet is defined as a culture, its identity, and its claim to being an legitimate independent culture.

While the rest of the book presents a relatively non-biased look at Tibetan
Bruno Lucas
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very readable and balanced biography of Tibet. This book delivered exactly what I was hoping: a basic knowledge of Tibet's story, and some understanding of the controversy around its history.
As the author points out in his introduction, the debate over Tibet's identity has turned into a war, and " in a war like this, history plays perhaps the most important role". One side of the debate points out that Tibet has always been strongly linked to China, having lived under its influence since the
Pat Rolston
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sam Van Schaik writes in a manner allowing for leisurely reading yet highly informative Tibetan history from 700 AD to present in only 269 pages. Don't be deterred by the seemingly impossible task of writing decent 1,300 year history in this length as it is brevity at it's best. The author captures the Chinese-Tibetan dynamic wonderfully with vignettes that result in a thorough understanding and very enjoyable reading experience. Perfect for anyone seeking a basic understanding of an amazing ...more
Marsha Altman
Nov 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tibet, history
Recommended. The most straightforward and concise history of Tibet available in American and British markets. If you're familiar with Tibetan history, it's probably a little controversial on the subjects of Tibet's early history, which itself makes it interesting.
Jessica Zu
Jul 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
a pretty good story about tibetan history, for general public, and maybe some undergraduate teaching
Hardik  Lohani
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Tibet's glorious history of thousands of years from medieval to modern ages is compacted in this book akin to the style of story.

It all starts with the great tsenpo; Songsten Gampo who was legendary in the stature captured Chang'an, capital of Tang empire to force, emperor Teizong sign the treaty of brotherhood and friendship acknowledging the might of Tibet for first time. Songsten, a great king of Yarlung dynasty not only showed military might, but also unified the warring clans of Tibetan
Nor'dzin Pamo
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Tibet: A History was published in 2011, but I wish I had been able to read it 20 years ago. It is written in an informative and approachable style, that is not too academic. This history explodes any illusions of Tibet as having been a paradise of serene Buddhist practitioners.
Before it became part of communist China in 1959, Tibet's history was violent, and full of political intrigue and manoeuvring. Tibet was often at the centre of a web of power struggles from all directions - China,
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history, tibet
A single-volume synoptic history of Tibet, starting from the pre-Buddhist era and continuing to the present. Van Schaik draws from very recent scholarly research (at least from browsing the endnotes) and he tells it all in a way that is appropriate for a patient general reader or at the undergraduate level for a course. He relates what seems to be a complicated series of topics easily and with a fluid writing style.
Caden Howlett
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating book covering 1,400 years of complex, somewhat controversial history in a concise manner. I read this book in preparation for an upcoming trip to the region and feel that I am embarking with a much better understanding and appreciation for the Tibetan cultural and political history.
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, nhfpl-reread
Sam Van Schaik offers everything that one could possibly want in a history - thoroughness, rich detail, structured in a well-written and succinct narrative. For anyone who wants to know about Tibet's past, I enthusiastically recommend this as *the* book to read first.
Peter Hutt Sierra
Feb 18, 2018 rated it liked it
A good introduction the the region. I've always found Tibet to be very interesting subject, but then again that's true of most places I know little about. The discussions on various schools of Buddhism can be a little overwhelming at times, but that just makes me want to read more.
A good primer that would have been better with less Buddhism and more politics, economics, and social structures.
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic overview of the layered and complex history of Tibet.
Mike Flake
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Detailed historical review covering the history of Tibet. It gives a practical view of the amazingly rich culture and varied heritage of Tibet.
Kencho Wangdi
Aug 31, 2018 marked it as to-read
Shelves: reading
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Eliade
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The most comprehensive, readable, and best summary of Tibetan history out there.
Tim C
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, tibet, phd
This book is an excellent introduction to the complex and often contentious history of Tibet. It manages to convey an admirably balanced overview (especially of the recent past). As a concise narrative history it is informed by a very clear, scholarly interpretation of its source material, yet at the same time it remains a highly engaging read. The chapters are set out in a clear and logical chronology with a deft lightness of touch in terms of occasional references linking either forwards or ...more
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Dr. van Schaik writes clearly, concisely, in a way that is scholarly and grounded but absolutely page-turning. He uses dynamic storytelling without sensationalizing the material. Going back to the 7th century, van Schaik uses the order of elements to break certain assumptions about Tibet (for example, he begins the first chapter with the invasion of Chang'an in 763 and then backtracks to question how the conditions for this invasion came about). Throughout the book he deftly weaves material ...more
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Spatially and religiously, a well balanced history of Tibet. I thought the strongest points were the author's commitment to giving us a rich understanding of divisions within Tibet over 1500 years of history. We explains the genesis of all the major, and many of the minor, schools of Tibetan Buddhism and their political roles in U, Tsang, Kham, and Amdo. While the book tends to be more of a history of Central Tibet, van Schaik still tends to the history of its larger, more powerful neighbors ...more
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
As a Chinese, I hate the western historians to use "Chinese" to refer to "Han" ethnicity, also I felt so awkward to see them refer each political dynasty to "China". This will unconsciously give the readers the impression that "China" and "Tibet" and many other parts of China are separated.

Other than this, I felt this book especially useful to provide empirical information to understand the autonomous region of Tibet.
Barbara O'Brien
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are looking for a readable one-volume history of Tibet, this is it. I would have given it five stars, except that I found a few small errors in the Kindle edition. It's possible the print edition is fine.
Yang Xiang
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Adelina Vaca
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Aug 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Succinct, scholarly, and very well written -- van Schaik's history of Tibet accomplishes a rare triumvirate.
Matt Root
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book does a good job of surveying the complicated political and religious histories of this fascinating land that is often discussed but rarely explained in our media.
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A great country biography and despite the topic matter happily devoid of hippy bullshit or romanticized depictions of Buddhism.
rated it really liked it
Oct 14, 2019
Jack Holt
rated it it was amazing
Apr 12, 2015
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