Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town PDF/EPUB

Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town Just as she did with North Korea, award winning journalist Barbara Demick explores one of the most hidden corners of the world She tells the story of a Tibetan town perched eleven thousand feet above sea level that is one of the most difficult places in all of China for foreigners to visit Ngaba was one of the first places where the Tibetans and the Chinese Communists encountered one another In the s, Mao Zedong s Red Army fled into the Tibetan plateau to escape their adversaries in the Chinese Civil War By the time the soldiers reached Ngaba, they were so hungry that they looted monasteries and ate religious statues made of flour and butter to Tibetans, it was as if they were eating the Buddha Their experiences would make Ngaba one of the engines of Tibetan resistance for decades to come, culminating in shocking acts of self immolation Eat the Buddha spans decades of modern Tibetan and Chinese history, as told through the private lives of Demick s subjects, among them a princess whose family is wiped out during the Cultural Revolution, a young Tibetan nomad who becomes radicalized in the storied monastery of Kirti, an upwardly mobile entrepreneur who falls in love with a Chinese woman, a poet and intellectual who risks everything to voice his resistance, and a Tibetan schoolgirl forced to choose at an early age between her family and the elusive lure of Chinese money All of them face the same dilemma Do they resist the Chinese, or do they join them Do they adhere to Buddhist teachings of compassion and nonviolence, or do they fight Illuminating a culture that has long been romanticized by Westerners as deeply spiritual and peaceful, Demick reveals what it is really like to be a Tibetan in the twenty first century, trying to preserve one s culture, faith, and language against the depredations of a seemingly unstoppable, technologically all seeing superpower Her depiction is nuanced, unvarnished, and at times shocking Excited to see that Barbara Demick is coming out with a new book Nothing to Envy was so immersive, well written, and eye opening that I m willing to read about any subject that she writes about. My thanks to Random House, Barbara Demick and Netgalley.I will confess that I didn t like this That annoyed me I did expect to like this I didn t I have no excuses nor explanations I hated this book Not the area or zip Just this book. Note I received an advanced reader copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley Through interviews with various Tibetans from in and around the town of Ngaba on the eastern reaches of the Tibetan Plateau, Barbara Demick is able to provide a multi layered look into a region that has long been obscured by both an official Chinese state media system focused on projecting a global image of national harmony and Orientalizing westerners who imagine a land that is not muchbeyond religious mysticism Note I received an advanced reader copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley Through interviews with various Tibetans from in and around the town of Ngaba on the eastern reaches of the Tibetan Plateau, Barbara Demick is able to provide a multi layered look into a region that has long been obscured by both an official Chinese state media system focused on projecting a global image of national harmony and Orientalizing westerners who imagine a land that is not muchbeyond religious mysticism and monks First of all, said interviews provide a detailed dive into the many changes and upheavals that the town of Ngaba and its surrounding environs has experienced over the last several decades This regional history, in turn, serves as a microcosm for the history of greater Tibet, which the author takes care to cover specifically when necessary Along with all of the historical coverage leading up through to the current times, all of the interviewed individuals collectively reveal just how much being a Tibetan in the present day People s Republic means enduring a conflicted existence, where they increasingly feel like they can either partake in the development and rising standard of living enjoyed by most citizens of China, be a distinct people who can openly embrace their culture and faith, but not both Demick s work is as informative as it is eye opening For all those who wish to know what the present day is like for the ever pressured Tibetan people, I cannot possibly recommend this book enough TOGETHER WE WILL BUILD A BEAUTIFUL HOME BEND LOW LISTEN TO WHAT PEOPLE SAY Government sponsored posterNgaba County in the northern part of Sichuan is in the author s terms the world capital of self immolations In shaky cellphone video, there is footage of those who have set themselves afire, breaking their own religious proscriptions against suicide, often wrapping themselves in thick blankets and swallowing gasoline before so they d burn completely About a third are from Ngaba Ngaba a t TOGETHER WE WILL BUILD A BEAUTIFUL HOME BEND LOW LISTEN TO WHAT PEOPLE SAY Government sponsored posterNgaba County in the northern part of Sichuan is in the author s terms the world capital of self immolations In shaky cellphone video, there is footage of those who have set themselves afire, breaking their own religious proscriptions against suicide, often wrapping themselves in thick blankets and swallowing gasoline before so they d burn completely About a third are from Ngaba Ngaba a town with 70,000 residents, is small by the standards of China The first traffic light was installed in the 2010s Demick, a bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, has made three separate visits, concealing her face to make her interviews She must resort to this because the so called Tibet Autonomous Region is almost totally off limits for foreign journalists, but visiting a majority Tibetan town in an Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan is at least possible Her book became a history of the town and a close examination of the relationships between the Chinese Communist Party and Tibet The first encounter was under extreme and difficult circumstances In the early 1930s, the Communist forces were on the run from the Nationalists under Chiang Kai Shek The Communists were driven nearly to starvation They boiled and ate the skin off drums They ate the statues of offering to the Buddha, some made of wax and butter This act of total sacrilege was the start of a volatile and distrustful relationship What stops this book from being just another story, just another repeating of the bloody catalog of oppression is the detail in the memories of those Tibetans Demick interviews One elderly woman remembers seeing a Chinese car for the first time when she was a young girl She thought it was an animal and tried to feed it grass There were some times of cautious trust and opening up, but these are interrupted by periods of intense suffering and terror Those who self immolate today were not the first to protest against Chinese rule In 1958 a year so bad it is simply referred to as 58 in Tibetan or the time when earth and sky changed places , the nomads were forced into cooperative living and their herds of animals were confiscated This was part of the vast failed experiment in industrialization known as the Great Leap Forward Thenomadic Tibetans were wholly dependent on those animals for everything, and so they were forced into total poverty Many thousands died Ngaba today is removed somewhat from that in the past the streets are cleaner, there are some amenities It looks cleaner andprosperous than its neighbors Perhaps some of the local party officials had tried to invest in it as an offset to local grievances Images of the Dalai Lama are prohibited the author had a Lonely Planet Book confiscated because of it Monasteries that were demolished have been rebuilt, but they re under heavy surveillance One Tibetan businessman laments that he s wealthier now but he s still not free.When Demick speaks to the locals, their demands seem almost modest passports for external travel, andTibetan language education But given the crushing treatment to other groups in recent years, and state policy of enforced control, that seems unlikely The Party Secretary of Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo from 2016 onwards was previously Party Secretary of Tibet Demick says the level of terror for the Tibetans here echoes North Korea, and she can get away with saying this as she s interviewed enough North Koreans to write a book on it This is a heartbreaking story the Tibetans now seem overlooked by the rest of the world, while the party state would surveil their every word and thought

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