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Tibet in Agony: Lhasa 1959 by Jianglin Li

Tibet in Agony: Lhasa 1959

by Jianglin Li

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0674088891, Hardcover)

The Chinese Communist government has twice invoked large-scale military might to crush popular uprisings in capital cities. The second incident―the notorious massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989―is well known. The first, thirty years earlier in Tibet, remains little understood today. Yet in wages of destruction, bloodshed, and trampling of human rights, the tragic toll of March 1959 surpassed Tiananmen.

Tibet in Agony provides the first clear historical account of the Chinese crackdown in Lhasa. Sifting facts from the distortions of propaganda and partisan politics, Jianglin Li reconstructs a chronology of events that lays to rest lingering questions about what happened in those fate-filled days and why. Her story begins with throngs of Tibetan demonstrators who―fearful that Chinese authorities were planning to abduct the Dalai Lama, their beloved leader―formed a protective ring around his palace. On the night of March 17, he fled in disguise, only to reemerge in India weeks later to set up a government in exile. But no peaceful resolution awaited Tibet. The Chinese army soon began shelling Lhasa, inflicting thousands of casualties and ravaging heritage sites in the bombardment and the infantry onslaught that followed. Unable to resist this show of force, the Tibetans capitulated, putting Mao Zedong in a position to fulfill his long-cherished dream of bringing Tibet under the Communist yoke.

Li’s extensive investigation, including eyewitness interviews and examination of classified government records, tells a gripping story of a crisis whose aftershocks continue to rattle the region today.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 02 Jan 2017 09:25:53 -0500)

On March 17, 1959, the Dalai Lama slipped out of his summer palace, the Norbulingka, in disguise, evading detection both by the Chinese Communist authorities stationed in the city and by the thousands of Tibetan demonstrators who had gathered in the area, fearful that the Chinese were plotting to abduct their beloved leader. After a hair-raising trek across the Himalayas, he re-emerged weeks later in India, where he set up his government in exile. Soon after he left Lhasa, however, the Chinese People's Liberation Army pummeled the city in the savage "Battle of Lhasa." The poorly prepared Tibetans were forced to capitulate, putting Mao in a position to fulfill his long-held dream of imposing Communist rule over Tibet. Partisan politics has tended to overshadow history ever since these fateful developments. For decades, independent scholars have lacked the source materials necessary for evaluating these conflicting allegations and placing them in their proper historical context. Chinese sources, in particular, have remained shrouded in secrecy until quite recently. Meanwhile, unrest has continued to erupt periodically in Lhasa, which had its third major disturbance in 2008. What really happened in Lhasa in March 1959, and why did it happen? Tibet in Agony sets the historical record straight by extensive examination of Chinese and Tibetan sources, many of which are either new or have never before been used by independent scholars. From these sources emerges the first narrative to trace the crisis in Lhasa in March 1959 to its roots in Mao's plan to take over Tibet, and in the fears and suspicions that the step-by-step execution of his plan aroused among Tibetans.--… (more)

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