Few western men reached the legendary city of Lhasa deep into the ancient kingdom of Tibet. Heinrich Harrer was one of them. He is a man of simple, but precise words. There is no highly sophisticated literary style in his writing only the truth and for me that is still the best poetry I can think of. This book tells the real tale of an extraordinary and perilous voyage into an unknown land an an even less known society. Despite the terrain and cultural barriers in front of him the author succeded in escaping his persecutors and penetrating the world of the high society of Tibet with awesome skill and determination. Yet this peaceful world was about to fall at the feet of the Chinese conquerors I believe that like the book of Marco Polo Harrer's book will remain among the great adventure books of history. Aside from being a declaration of war against the cruel Chinese conquerors and their powerful, brutal regime this book stands as a great hymn of freedom, determination and human friendship even among different cultures.
30th of August of 1999
I read this book in April 1997 (before that bad movie was shown) and it was the only one in our school library, unread and unnoticed in the archives section. It was one of the best true-to-life adventures one can read. The book I read looked as though it has not been touched by anyone, as indicated by the cataloging sheet inside. Such a shame. Harrer said it all well in the end when he remarked, "It is disturbing what people consider important; here in Tibet, the yak dictates the pace of life," or something to that effect. Indeed, every true Asian should be reading this account on their neighbors before they get deluded by visions of economic growth and more stressful living. It is doing them wrong to dismiss the Tibetans as "simple" people; rather, everyone could find in this book that there is dignity in not being part of what is "modern." From the passionate eyes of a European adventurer, Asians and Westerners alike should discover what they've been missing. Marvel at Harrer's daring escape from the POW camp, his accounts of the people's way of life and spirituality, his respect for the Himalayas' majesty and his strong attachment to the Tibetans (He calls himself and friend Aufschnaiter half-Tibetans). Having loved Tibet for what it offered him, you can even forgive Harrer if he hated the Chinese for what they did.