tibet: enduring spirit, exploited land

by Robert Z. Apte and Andres R. Edwards, AuthorHouse (Second Edition), 2004 Heartsfire Books (Hardback), 1998. 2005.

Reviews and Endorsements

From: The Dalai Lama
The significance of the Tibetan Plateau could be understood from the fact that it is the source of ten major rivers, which are the lifeline of millions of people living in Asia. What happens in Tibet has a direct bearing on the lives of millions of people living downstream. The environmental balance of Tibet also affects the global weather pattern as recent scientific research shows. ÉI welcome this book and am sure that it will help in creating more awareness among the people about the tragic ecological plight of Tibet and move them to help save Tibet.

-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama

From: Library Journal, May 1, 1998
Tibet today is inhabited by 7.5 million Chinese and 6 million Tibetans. Lhasa, the capital, has more than twice as many Chinese as Tibetans. Along with this in-migration, and its many cultural implications have come widespread changes in the natural environment, including deforestation, mining exploitation, new practices of agriculture that raise yields but introduce chemicals and pollution, and reduced habitat for wildlife. This book is a plea for foreign pressure to preserve Tibet as an environmental and cultural buffer "zone of peace" between China and India. Appendixes list Tibet support organizations and environment and development guidelines issued by the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. An abundance of photographs depict the landscape and the nomadic life it has traditionally supported, along with some of the ravages now taking place. A powerful book suitable for both public and academic libraries.

Harold M. Otness, Southern Oregon Univ. Lib., Ashland

From Publishers Weekly, April, 27, 1998
Tibet: Enduring Spirit, Exploited Land reveals the beauty of the land and it’s people and the abuses they have both endured. Robert Z. Apte, a psychiatric social worker and Chilean ecologist Andres R. Edwards show how the often nomadic or semi-nomadic herders and farmers of Tibet have had their ways of life disrupted, and, along with the Dalai Lama (who provides a foreword), call for action.

(Heartsfire, $29.95 192 pg., ISBN 1-8889797-11-1; May)

From: Booklist
Since the Chinese occupation of Tibet, the country and its people have suffered immesurably. In pictures and words, Apte and Edwards celebrate the harmonious co-existence of Tibetans with their land before the takeover, then they go on to document the devastation and destruction occuring today. The once unspoiled harsh beauty of the landscape that Tibet’s nomads and farmers revered and respected for centuries is shown to be ravaged by clear-cutting of forests, killing of endangered species, and harsh treatment of a dwindling Tibetan populace. The efforts of Apte and Edwards resulted in recorded interviews and photographic evidenceof the ecological assault Tibet suffers under China's rule. In chronicling the vast damage to Tibet’s environment, they make a plea for an end to the continuing oppression of Tibetans and their culture, proposing that the country become what the Dalai Lama calls a zone of peace.

-- Alice Joyce, Booklist

From: David Brower
Few books have looked into the lives of nomads and farmers of Tibet and how they have been able to lead satisfying lives in the sparse high altitude area north of the Himalayas. The authors depict the value of the environmental wisdom gathered by the Tibetans over the millennia. Their writings and interviews with nomads and farmers illustrate the tremendous loss to the world by ignoring the ongoing impact of the Chinese occupation. Apte and Edwards see some hope for the future as the world bodies better understand the need for a neutral Tibet established as a Zone of Peace.

-- David Brower, Founder and Chairman, Earth Island Institute. Former Executive Director, The Sierra Club

From: Helena Norberg-Hodge
Tibet: Harvest of the Spirit is a book that must be read by all those who have concern for the environment that goes beyond local issues. While it deals with the struggles and triumphs of the Tibetan nomads and farmers before and during the Chinese occupation, it brings into sharp focus the price the world must pay if it continues to turn a blind eye to the events in the ÒLand of Snows.Ó Behind the nomads and farmers’ reverence and respect for the land is found an intuitive understanding of environmental laws and an impressive land ethic. Apte and Edwards fear that this knowledge will be lost to the world while the Chinese vigorously impose on them a western style of industrial development. Their story is not only told in words, but hilighted in a series of stunning photographs. The authors are to be congratulated for covering this tragic and unfolding international ecological event through the compelling accounts of Tibetans and observers witnessing these dramatic changes.

-- Helena Norberg-Hodge, author of Ancient Futures

From: Horace E. Sheldon
This is a book filled with compelling truths beautifully told and enriched with color photographs that abet the text by conveying the mood of the land and its people. There are truths about mans’ relation to the natural world and about the most basic of life’s values. They spring from the lives of the Tibetan people at least as they were allowed to live there before their society was overwhelmed from the outside.

Apte and Edwards document how after its military takeover of Tibet in 1950, China systematically has plundered its land and subjected its people to a harsh rule. Hillsides are being denuded of their forest and left to be washed down to the rivers feeding India. Thousands of monasteries have been blown up in an effort to stamp out the peoples’ Buddhist faith.

The world of the 1990s challenges the human conscience from genocide in parts of Africa to ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. But our impulse to want to do “something” is frustrated by the complex realities of each gross violation of human decency, and by national sovereignty. Of all the tragic happenings unfolding in the world today, those in Tibet somehow demand our special concern.

It is not just the appeal of this remote land of mystery of James Hilton’s Shangrila. It is the tragedy of witnessing in our very own decades the steady destruction of a way of life and of a system of values sustained for centuries that is unduplicated elsewhere on earth.

As the authors stress, the loss is to all of us and they tell us why. What we stand to lose in an on-going living model of how to come to terms with the natural world and with each other from which all individuals can learn. As the book puts it, if the Tibetans can regain their independence we can profit much from “a culture with an immense spiritual abundance and an earth-based wisdom.”

To those with no knowledge of Tibet, this may seem an over-reaching assertion. But, when the reader digests the accounts of the day-to-day ways in which Tibetans live out their “reverence for life” extending it to all sentient beings, even insects its sound basis becomes clear.

This is an important and very readable book for all the world to share.

--Horace E. Sheldon
Retired Himalayan Trekker, visited Tibet in 1987. Retired Director, Governmental Affairs Office, Ford Motor Company

From: Independent Publisher
As the title implies, this primer on the Chinese domination of Tibet is not a scholarly study, nor a particularly balanced exploration, but a call to action. The comparisons the authors make between Tibet and the historical displacement and marginalization of Native Americans are particularly compelling as Apte and Edwards, environmentalists and human rights advocates decry the systematic decimation of the Tibetan people, their culture, religion, and--the focus of this book--the Tibetan ecosystem. With the aid of photographs and interviews, the authors offer a general introduction to Tibet, leading to the argument that Tibetan reverence for land has been routinely and brazenly ignored as deforestation, mining, and oil drilling takes its toll on the once pristine landscape.

Despite the careful research the authors present, there is at times the tendency to oversimplify the issues for the sake of brevity. When, for example, the authors agree that the recent economic reforms the Chinese are pushing onto Tibet are a more subtle means of control, they also acknowledge that these reforms are raising the standard of living, but quickly add that “oppressive regulations remain a roadblock."Surely, the issue is more complicated, with younger Tibetans more complicit in their roles, and the ambiguous “oppressive regulations" possibly skewed against Tibetans achieving too much success, but the authors rarely delve deeper than a cursory examination, and we are left with more questions.

However, this might not be so problematic since the authors clearly intend us to continue learning more, offering us an extended appendix with further information on organizations and contacts. Aimed at the neophyte looking for an introduction to the Chinese-Tibetan outrage, with an emphasis on Tibetan environmental concerns, this book offers readers a solid start.

--Leonard Chang, Independent Publisher

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