Books - Non Fiction

Tibet: The Road Ahead – Dawa Norbu (Book Review)

Tibet: The Road Ahead is a non-fiction book written by a Tibetian, Dawa Norbu, who was born in Tibet and lived there for the first 11 years of his life. After the Chinese take-over, his family (along with numerous others) crossed over and settled in India.

In this book, Dawa Norbu tells the story of his family and the circumstances which led them to leave their homes/belongings in Tibet. He includes a detailed analysis of the history and political situation in Tibet, both before the Chinese occupation and after it.

Frankly, I was only aware of the name of Tibet before I read this book but the author has conveyed so much information that now I am quite familiar with the religious, social, economic and political landscapes of this country, which is located among the Himalayas and hence is sometimes called as the ‘roof of the world’.

Though it is a non-fiction book, the author tells us a story – The story of his family. I wonder how he remembers so much as most of what he describes happens before he was 11 years old! The first part of this book is entirely dedicated to this story and can be read in a breeze.

One is always astonished by a different lifestyle and I found the Tibetian lifestyle to be unique and interesting. Of course, it has its benefits as well as flaws and the author points them out from a neutral stand-point. This is very difficult to achieve, especially when one writes about their own country to which they might feel emotionally attached.

Then comes the shocker – Chinese occupation and unleashing of their brand of communism. You should actually read this book to understand the real motivation behind ‘Tibetian liberation’ and ‘revolution’ as carried out by the Chinese. The way it was enforced is even more shocking.

The second part of the book is a bit difficult to read as it is pure non-fiction. It talks about the possible solutions that might lead to more autonomy in Tibet and the efforts taken by Dalai Lama to achieve them. An entire section is dedicated to the history of Tibet (at the end) and it is equally fascinating like the first part of the book.

Imagine a whole warrior-class population dropping their weapons and adopting the non-violent principles of Buddhism – That’s what the Tibetians did (many centuries back)! This section also talks about how the political power changed from Kings to Religious heads, and the role of other countries like China, Mongolia and India in shaping the history of Tibet.

The writing style is top-class and is still simple enough for anyone to understand. Even though the author’s POV leans in favor of the Tibetian aspirations, one still wonders how he is able to comment on the Chinese, Indian and the world’s policies on Tibet, from a neutral stand-point.

I definitely recommend this book for people who want to learn the history of Tibet, its culture and the account of the Chinese occupation, from a Tibetian’s viewpoint.

  • You can buy ‘Tibet – The Road Ahead’ by Dawa Norbu from in India. [This is an affiliate link. I may get a small commission if you click on the link and buy the product.]

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