Other reviewers have given a synopsis of the book, so I won't repeat it here. Also, I read an old edition without the Afterword, so didn't have to read the author's repudiation of his youth.
I thoroughly enjoyed this classic "Journey to the East" travelogue. Harvey observes keely and writes from the heart. This book is for anyone who has travelled and fallen in love with a foreign culture, or who has travelled and hoped to find a new way of being.
Andrew Harvey is an excellent writer.his writings,even on esoterica,have a light touch, making them accessible to those of us without a first at Oxford. This book is a well written decrpitive early gem by Mr. Harvey.Ladakh is [was?]the last pristine place of tibetan buddhism left on the planet. Mr Harvey goes in search of it,and ,of course, himself. The results are surprising, and very well done. The early parts of the book deal with the travel,and it occasionally borders on poetry.The meat of the book,as it were,is Mr. Harvey's encounter with a Tibetan Rinpoche,and the subsequent effect on his life.His conversations with the rinpoche,juxtaposed with his nights drinking chang[the local brew]in a Ladakhan saloon, are wonderful, and make the text much more enjoyable, and less self inflating. After all of this, Mr. Harvey writes an afterward 20 years later[this is a reprint]and he seems to have been ahving a bad day.After stopping just short of accusing the dalai lama of homophobia[traced to some of The Dalai lamas remarks made in San Francisco, I think,}he pounds the tibetan exile community,brings up the patrichial setup of traditional tibetan life[from a feminist perspective],and generally gets more heated in 3 pages than the previous 220+. Odd way to end a lovely book.