Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town

Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town Review

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 1930s, 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.

Title:Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town
Edition Language:English

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    Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town Reviews

  • Jenna

    Tibet hills and mountains, by abogada samoana. Wikimedia CommonsEat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town is an up close account of the Tibetan people told through the stories of several indi...

  • Lisa

    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 bo...

  • PorshaJo

    Rating 2.5Oh this one pains me so much. I can't tell you how excited I was to have a new book by Barbara Demick. I read her earlier book on North Korea and really liked it. I begged my library for thi...

  • Hadrian

    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...

  • Geoffrey

    (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...

  • Jill Dobbe

    An exceptionally well-written book that portrays the ideals of Tibetan culture and what Tibetans did to survive under Chinese rule in a way that was honorable, insightful and genuine.I was drawn to th...

  • abby

    "As context, the estimated death toll of 300,000 Tibetans during this period is greater than the massacre in Nanjing by Japanese occupying troops, for which the Chinese government insisted on repeated...

  • Sarah

    http://www.bookwormblues.net/2020/08/...Back when I was working on my undergraduate degree in nutrition, one of my last classes was called Multicultural Health and Nutrition. I loved this class. Our b...

  • Tony

    The Tibetans tried to get the British to recognize their independence, but ended up having to settle for a deal that gave China the rights of "suzerainty," which had the advantage of being a term that...

  • Daniel Warriner

    Eat the Buddha by Barbara Demick, released in July of this year, is a compelling, heart-breaking report of the Tibetan struggle over the past several decades, beginning in 1958 with the royal family o...