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Sandy B. (Dewitt, NY)
"From Oppression To Freedom"
I was particularly interested in reading this book because although I have heard about the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the oppression of the Tibetan people, I knew nothing about the history of the country. As a school social worker in a school with 300 refugee students from 80 different countries, I try to read books about people of different cultures as often as possible. I also love historical fiction, as well as books about strong women. I found all three women in the book, the grandmother, Kunsan, the mother, Sonam, and Yangzom, the daughter and author, to be amazing, courageous women in their own distinct way. Anyone who loves to learn about culture and history from stories about real people who lived through it will love this story. When I reached the end of the book, I felt tremendous empathy for the current plight of the Tibetan people.
Sarah W. (Frenchtown, MT)
A view into the Tibetan experience
For me this was a bit of a surprise. I expected to read much of the Chinese invasion of Tibet. What I found was a personal journal of three generations of Tibetan refugees, including very interesting details of Tibetan culture and religion. I felt that the latter third of the book was the most richly described, possibly because this portion represented the author's personal experiences. A very interesting read.
Andrea B. (Phoenix, AZ)
Three Generations of Tibetan Women
This book expanded my knowledge of Tibet and its recent history. I have recently studied the history of China for the last 5000 years. The border of China has expanded and contracted over many centuries. This book prompted me to think about all the groups that were enfolded into China against their will. The most successful of the Chinese expansions occurred when the existing culture and government were left in place. It is interesting that China has not learned that lesson and has treated Tibet harshly. However, many of the atrocities that occurred during the course of this story were products of the Chinese cultural revolution, which affected many people in China, not just in Tibet. This is not the book to read if you want a balanced view of the history in that part of the world. It is told from the viewpoint of Tibetans, who have, in fact, lost many of their religious freedoms. I found this book informative and interesting. It would be a good book club book as the discussion could cover recent Tibetan history from a more objective viewpoint.
Darlyne F. (Hunter, ND)
Across Many Mountains
I liked this book. You could tell that the writer really knew what she was writing about. Sometimes the descriptions the details were a little to long and for me that made it a slow read for me. But I learned a lot about Tibet and Buddhism. I really admired the grandmother. Her determination is a good lesson for all. Also I really loved the cover.
Sandra S. (Kula, HI)
Across Many Mountains
A compelling, personal account of the lives of three generations of Tibetan women. A story of survival, faith, courage, and adaptation.I think this book should appeal to anyone interested in the Tibet/China conflict, Buddhism, and the strength of women. I found Yangzom Brauen's descriptions of her grandmother's Buddhist practices and the Tibetan culture enlightening and often humorous. There is a lot to learn on many levels from this short, clearly written memoir.
Kate S. (arvada, CO)
Across Many Mountains
Not many authors can combine so much history and personal experiences and have them work together. This book does a fine job with both areas. The knowledge I gained about Tibet and the Buddhist religion was an added bonus to gleaming into the lives of these three woman. It was refreshing to read about people who still hold tradition, and "homeland" so dear to their heart. A great read that I will recommend to my book club as well as a handful of friends.
Soosi D. (Shelton, Washington)
Across Many Mountains
What this book lacks in writing style it makes up for in real-life story. Ms Brauen recounts the tale of three generations of Tibetan women surviving monumental life events across three continents and four countries. Their individual and collective strengths are brought to bare on their circumstances and result in the three of them now living in the 21st century far from their Tibetan roots.
Kimberly H. (Stamford, CT)
Across Many Mountains...
Beginning with their simple and deeply-religious life in remote Tibet and continuing through their flight to India during the 1959 Chinese invasion, the author recounts somewhat flatly, the story of her grandparents' early experiences as they were forced to leave the land they loved. Ms. Brauen's writing style gains a dynamic quality as she moves through her mother's young life in India and later her romance with Ms. Brauen's now-famous father, Martin Brauen. It is Mr. Brauen's proposal of marriage that leads to their move to Switzerland and eventually to the United States.
This is an important retelling of one Tibetan family that was forced to leave their native land yet remain devoted to the religious and cultural beliefs of their people. Having traveled in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and having met other Tibetan families, I find this book to be very representative of the stories told by many other Tibetans living outside the boundaries of Tibet today.
Editor's Note: Some months after submitting her review, Soosi emailed us with some additional thoughts...
I wanted to comment further on my previous review of Across Many Mountains. I discovered that I had already bought this book last Spring when I was in Hong Kong, but had not read it and had put it aside to read 'later' as I often do. My context for reading it (and rating it) was based on two (and now three) trips to Qinghai Province, China to the eastern Tibetan Plateau region that is settled primarily by rural Tibetans and Hui (Chinese Muslims). Our guide each time has been a wonderful young Tibetan man who has a similar history as the main characters, He made a similar trip from his monastery at the age of 15 to Lhasa, on to Katmandu with a group of 57 'pilgrims' who then traveled the rest of the way to India and Dharmsala, where he was educated in refugee schools in English and computer science. He returned to his family seven years later and now resides part time in the city of Xining and part time in his very primitive village where his family still lives. He is a fascinating, very conflicted young man.
I think I would have been less distracted by the quality of writing in Across Many Mountains if I had been reading about an experience such as theirs for the first time....so I guess it works both ways. In hindsight, I really did enjoy the content of the book. Interestingly, I had my review copy in my suitcase on our trip to Sichuan/Qinghai this November and it disappeared from my suitcase in Chengdu. No one said anything, it was just taken! I was hand-carrying it to our guide who was very eager to read it. I should have kept it closer to my body! I hope it got passed along and not burned.
Three generations of women over a century before and after the Chinese occupation makes for a fascinating account of escape, oppression, religion and family. At times a little long and the writing a bit flat, but highly recommend for those interested in the culture of Tibet.