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Across Many Mountains: A Tibetan Family's Epic Journey from Oppression to Freedom

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,530 ratings  ·  253 reviews
A powerful, emotional memoir and an extraordinary portrait of three generations of Tibetan women whose lives are forever changed when Chairman Mao’s Red Army crushes Tibetan independence, sending a young mother and her six-year-old daughter on a treacherous journey across the snowy Himalayas toward freedom.

Kunsang thought she would never leave Tibet. One of the country's y
Hardcover, 295 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Read for research for Tibet paper
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
The multigenerational memoir is an interesting beast. It allows for a great sweep of history, and brings to light stories that would not otherwise have been told. It’s a startling reminder of how much the world has changed, and how fast. Of course, one can’t help but wonder how true it ever is--is anyone completely honest with their offspring about their own young life? can anyone be completely honest in writing about their family?--but that’s a small price to pay for the amazing stories you get ...more
Linda Robinson
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An absorbing account of what China perpetrated by annexing Tibet, told by the granddaughter of a Buddhist monk and nun who escaped Chinese oppression walking with all they had on their backs, including one of their daughters. Across the Himalayas to India, to Switzerland, New York. Ms. Brauen writes with a fierce heart, reminding the reader that when we ignore colonial imperialism - or practice it - we change the lives of everyone dynastic imperative touches, even in a tiny village at the top of ...more
I won this memoir from the First Reads program. I was excited to receive a copy because I love memoirs and this particular one piqued my interest. Going in, I knew very little about Tibet other than some scattered impressions gathered from the periodic popularity surges of the “Free Tibet” movement here in the United States. I enjoyed this easy read. Its structure as a multigenerational memoir was interesting and well done. I appreciated that Brauen isn’t an apologist for the unattractive aspect ...more
Aug 20, 2013 rated it liked it
The actual story told in this book is amazing. The courage, strength and resolve the women in this story had to not only escape Tibet during the cultural revolution, but also survive their years in India after escaping, is astonishing.

In addition to the story of Kunsang and Sonam, I also enjoyed learning about Tibetan culture and Buddhist customs described in this book. Old Tibet wasn't the loving Utopia I had always thought it to be, I do appreciate that the author gave a very realistic view o
Jan 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
“Across Many Mountains” is a memoir that covers three generations of women over a period of 80 years. Yangzom Brauen, a Los Angeles actress, model, writer and activist, tells the story of her grandmother, a Buddhist nun who leaves her rural village in the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet in 1959, with her husband and two children and crosses into India and becomes a refugee. As she describes in the book, the Chinese claimed to have liberated the Tibetans from a caste system under clerics and aristoc ...more
Kamila Kunda
Yangzom Brauen’s “Across Many Mountains. Three Daughters of Tibet” (poor English title, compared with meaningful German “Eisenvogel”, and unnecessarily referring to Jung Chang’s now classic “Wild Swans. Three Daughters of China”) is a memoir about three generations of women from the author’s family, including herself. Kunsang, the author’s grandmother, a Tibetan nun, fled from Tibet to India in the 1960s with her husband and two small daughters, fearing Chinese persecution. Her husband and young ...more
ACROSS MANY MOUNTAINS: A TIBETAN FAMILY'S EPIC JOURNEY FROM OPPRESSION TO FREEDOM by Yangzom Brauen is made up of descriptions of one Tibetan family’s progression through different cultures, beginning in Tibet before the Chinese invasion and ending in Switzerland until they do a complete circle and return to Tibet many years later after the Chinese allow them back in. Each culture the family moves to is more technologically advanced than the last. This book is about their ability to cope in each ...more
Sailor Figment
Aug 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book may only tell the story of 3 generations of women, but you get the feeling of traversing many centuries. The story begins high in the Tibetan Himalayas in a small village lacking any modern conveniences. Modern, for 1910, that is. But it could have been 1810 or 1710. Life was hard but simple, and the author's grandmother was content. Her contentment and detachment from worldly life is felt in the narrative. Then in 1959 the Chinese took over and imposed Communism on the country. They s ...more
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
A friend loaned me this book. I don't usually read this sort of nonfiction but decided to give it a go because it was about Tibet.

Content wise there were some really interesting observations and recollections about life in Tibet - buddhism, rural life in Tibet in the 1930/40s, the impact of Chinese rule. Also some memorable descriptions about life for Tibetan refugees in India and the perilous journeys they made across the mountains to get there.
The story follows 3 generations of a family who es
Aug 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
I had the good fortune to receive this book courtesy of Goodreads First Reads. Unfortunately, my high expectations fell flat. For such an emotional story, being uprooted from one's homeland and then being forced to live as a refugee, I just didn't feel any sort of emotional connection to the grandmother and mother who lived through this experience. I was able to connect a bit better when the author, who is closer to my age, began to write about her experiences. It will be interesting to see if o ...more
Carolyn Lind
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
"When the iron bird flies and horses run on wheels, the Tibetan people will be scattered like ants across the face of the earth."-old saying in Tibet

Compared to some memoirs, this story has a strong ring of truth and authenticity. Through the eyes of the author's grandmother, a devout Buddhist nun, the reader gains an inside view of her religion as well as the challenges she faced when the Chinese destroyed much of what she considered sacred. Driven from their homeland by the 1950 Chinese invasi
Zoi Gkatziona
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book shouldn't be viewed from a literary standpoint. Rather, it is the interesting life story of three generations of women from a Tibetan family through which the reader can have a glimpse of the history of Tibet, its traditions and culture. But mostly one can be informed about the sufferings of its people because of the imposition of Chinese rule on them and their struggles against it. A really amazing and moving book! ...more
Sj Renfroe
Jun 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
I won this book from a First Reads Giveaway. It tells the story of three generations of Tibetan women and their transition from Tibetan inhabitants to refugees of Chinese communism to assimilated European immigrants. There is a particular analogy that the author uses to refer to these women- a sandwich. The grandmother is completely Tibetan in manners and culture, the granddaughter is completely Western in culture and manners and the mother is sandwiched between the two cultures. I found the res ...more
Aug 20, 2011 rated it liked it
I received an Advance Readers' Copy of this book through LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

"Across Many Mountains" is a memoir of three generations of women from a family. Kunsang was born and raised in Tibet, prior to the Chinese invasion of Tibet. As an adult, she chose to be a Buddhist nun. With her family she flees across the Himalayas during the Chinese occoupation of Tibet. Her daughter, Sonam, is born in Tibet, becomes a refugee in India as a child, eventually moving to Switzerland where she r
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This moving personal family history covering three generations of Tibetan women conveys the tragedy of the Chinese occupation of Tibet with more power than news reports or statistics. The details are different, but in a way it is a universal story not just of Tibet, but of every culture that has been purposely suppressed by another. Author Yangzom Brauen chronicles the lives of her grandmother, who has maintained the life of a Tibetan nun in all the years she’s had to live abroad, her mother, wh ...more
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
"When the iron bird flies and horses run on wheels, the Tibetan people will be scattered like ants across the face of the earth."

This book outlines the impact of the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950. When Chinese soldiers arrived at Kunsangs monastery, destroying everything as they went, Kunsang and her family escaped across the Himalayas, sadly spending years in Indian refugee camps. Kunsangs husband and her youngest child both died under the conditions of the camps, but the future held an ex
Oct 23, 2012 rated it liked it
One of the first chapters talks about the Chinese coming into Tibet in the late 1950's early 1960's. The Communists dragged the aristocrats through the streets by their hair, tortured them and took all their lands and holdings to distribute to Chinese peasants. Class envy isn't new. Every account I've read of communism getting started begins the same way.

The book gives a good insight into the Chinese occupation of Tibet which still continues (and will probably never cease) and the hardships of b
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Across Many Mountains is a true account of a people and a country that are not widely known in the West, or at least not known by this reader. In 1950 China invaded Tibet (this was not the first time). A Buddhist monk and his wife, a Buddhist nun (it's OK in their branch of Buddhism), and their two young daughters began a tortuous journey on foot through the Himalayas to the safety of India. The younger daughter died, the monk's health was ruined, but the mother and older daughter survived. This ...more
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't think I was going to get along with this book at first, because I struggled to get into it. I'm so glad I stuck with it because the story contained in this book is really amazing! Once hooked I was fascinated by the little details the author included about ordinary, every day details of life in Tibet (like how her grandma stored butter). I was equally absorbed by all the information about Buddhism in Tibet. It was completely blended into the actions of everybody in their ordinary day to ...more
Jun 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Liked it better than expected. Expected something of the refugee memoir genre: native life, violence forcing migration, harrowing escape, horrors of refugee camps, reconstruction of life, eventual return to native land. AMM has all these elements, but it has a unique personal story that transcends the genre and made this a good read. Tibet, of course, located on the Roof of the World with its unique cultural and religious history is an enticing locale for a good story. The three generations of w ...more
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I didn't expect this book to be as compelling as it was. It is the story of Brauen's mother's and grandmother's journey and it is also a story of Tibet's unfinished journey. It is always fascinating to me to read how much people will endure for freedom -- and sad that they must endure anything. It's inspiring to see them prevail. Kunsang and Sonam did indeed endure and prevail. Brauen has taken to heart their stories and is doing what she can to help Tibet to prevail. Her story is part of that j ...more
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
I would like to give this more stars, but I just can't. It was just okay. I think I read it hoping that after all the dramatic hardship the women suffered, there would be something inspiring in their lives that would give me reason to be better. Instead, I felt like, "so what? Doesn't everyone suffer something in this life and learn to live with it?" I'm not saying it doesn't have any redeeming qualities, just that I wasn't very touched or lifted by their story. ...more
Shauna Hruby
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this for book club and actually liked it more than most of the others in my group. I thought that the story of Kunsang and Sonam's escape from Tibet was riveting; however, once they are safely out, the story loses much of its vibrancy. Still I found it interesting and enjoyable, at least until the last chapters when Yangzom gets overly preachy and self-reflective. She is a much more successful author when she is talking about her family than when she focuses on herself.
3-1/2 stars.
Missy Cunningham
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a great story of three generations of Tibet tradition. I really had no idea about Tibet and the history of the country. It tells of struggle, the constant battle to survive and the endurance of a people to maintain as much of their culture as they can. It also tells of the tenacity of the younger generation and how they can make a difference.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing story of a family's journey from Tibet. If you have any interest in that part of the world, you will throughly enjoy this insider's account of being forced to flee your home and the hardships that follow. ...more
Gary Butler
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
28th book read in 2012.

Number 110 out of 260 on my all time book list.

Follow the link below to see my video review:
Michele Denault
Jun 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An enjoyable in depth look into the Tibetan culture and struggle to maintain their identity through the eyes of 3 women.
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: international, women
Wonderful! It's an amazing story told from the perspective of different generations. ...more
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Born to a Swiss father and Tibetan mother, Yangzom Brauen is an actress, director, writer and political activist. She lives in Los Angeles and has appeared in a number of German and American films.

With her latest film "Born in Battle' she received the UNESCO Gandhi medal as well as the UNESCO Enrico Fulchignoni award.

She is also very active in the Free Tibet movement, making regular radio broadcas

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“I have always admired people with strong roots, people who know where their home is and feel at one with themselves there, but that is not the case for me. I commute between cultures.” 1 likes
“en todo el Himalaya budista, este mantra ha acompañado a mi abuela a lo largo de su vida desde la mañana hasta la noche, ya fuera vocalizado, murmurado o sencillamente recitado en sus pensamientos. Es imposible traducirlo de forma literal. El Dalai Lama nos dice: «Esas seis sílabas tienen un significado grande y vasto. La primera, om, simboliza el cuerpo, el habla y la mente, impuros, del practicante; simboliza también el cuerpo, el habla y la mente, puros y exaltados, de un buda. El camino lo indican las cuatro sílabas siguientes. Mani, que significa joya, simboliza el método: la intención altruista de lograr la iluminación, la compasión y el amor. Las dos sílabas peme, que significan lotus, simbolizan la sabiduría. La pureza debe conseguirse a través de la unidad indivisible del método y la sabiduría, simbolizada con la sílaba final hung, que indica la indivisibilidad. Así, las seis sílabas, om mani peme hung, significan que en la subordinación a la práctica de un camino que es la unión indivisible de método y sabiduría podemos transformar nuestros cuerpo, habla y mente impuros en el cuerpo, el habla y la mente puros y exaltados de un buda». Cada una de las seis sílabas representa una de las seis formas de existencia en las que los seres humanos renacen, y de las cuales Bodhisattva y Avalokiteshvara pueden rescatar a los fieles. Este bodhisattva personifica la compasión universal, y está estrechamente relacionado con el difundido mantra mencionado.” 0 likes
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