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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

The Horse that Leaps Through Clouds

September 7, 2010

New book chronicles Dalai Lama's long struggle
against China's repressive rule over Tibet
www.horsethatleaps.com
September 3, 2010

In July 1908, in a mountaintop temple at Wutai
Shan, a Russian army officer offered the
Thirteenth Dalai Lama an unusual, though
practical, gift: a Browning revolver. Colonel
Gustaf Mannerhiem apologized that he didn’t have
a better offering, but explained that after two
years’ journey through China he had no other items of value.

The Dalai Lama laughed, "showing all his teeth,"
as Mannerheim showed His Holiness how to quickly
reload seven cartridges into the revolver. The
Dalai Lama relished the demonstration. "The times
were such,” Mannerheim wrote, "that a revolver
might at times be of greater use, even to a holy
man like himself, than a praying mill." He knew
the Dalai Lama was in imminent danger.

That is just one of the fascinating anecdotes in
a new book, The Horse That Leaps Through Clouds:
A Tale of Espionage, the Silk Road and the Rise
of Modern China, that chronicles China’s attempts
to subdue and colonize its restive ethnic
borderlands over the past century. Author Eric
Enno Tamm retraces the journey of the Russian spy
who travelled to China a century ago. Part of the
spy’s mission was to assess the role of the Dalai
Lama in Tibet’s struggle for "self government."

Initially banned from China, the author devises a
cover and slips into China’s restive ethnic
borderlands, discovering both eerie similarities
and seismic differences between the Middle
Kingdoms of today and a century ago. He visited
the Labrang lamasery in the Gannan Tibetan
Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu province (Chapter
13) and Wutai Shan, the most sacred of four
Buddhist mountains in China (Chapter 17). A
century ago, the Dalai Lama sought refuge at
Wutai Shan and launched an international campaign
to free Tibet from Peking’s repressive rule.

At this time, Peking began its first efforts to
systematically colonize Tibetan territory with
Han Chinese and integrate the region into China’s
administrative structure. Peking even proposed
building a railway to Lhasa. Outraged at various
reforms, Tibetan lamas threatened a "holy war"
against the Chinese. By the end of the 1908, a
rebellion broke out, leading to the defeat of Chinese troops.

A century later the author visits Tibetan areas
that would later rise up in violent protests
against Han Chinese colonization of Tibet and
Beijing’s harsh rule just before the 2008 Olympics.

"Tamm has written a grand sweep of a narrative"
Full of wild characters, harsh geography, and
historical surprise, Tamm’s journey reveals him
to be at once an intrepid adventurer, fine
writer, and discerning historian. Altogether a
wonderful book." -- Wade Davis, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence

"Following in the footsteps of Baron Carl Gustav
Mannerheim, the last Tsarist spy in the so-called
Great Game, Tamm has written a grand sweep of a
narrative. It combines a long and arduous
physical journey—9 months and 17,000 kilometers
from St. Petersburg across the Tibetan Plateau
and the Gobi desert to Beijing—with the
revelations of high stakes history—espionage in
virtually unknown territory in the early years of
the twentieth century. At its core, this is a
journey into the soul of the Middle Kingdom, and
the roots of modern China. Full of wild
characters, harsh geography, and historical
surprise, Tamm's journey reveals him to be at
once an intrepid adventurer, fine writer, and
discerning historian. Altogether a wonderful book." ---—Wade Davis

Product Description
Two epic journeys along the Silk Road, past and
present, offer a riveting and cautionary tale
about the breathtaking rise of China.

On July 6, 1906, Baron Gustaf Mannerheim boarded
the midnight train from St. Petersburg, charged
by Czar Nicholas II to secretly collect
intelligence on the Qing Dynasty’s sweeping
reforms that were radically transforming China.
The last czarist agent in the so-called Great
Game, Mannerheim chronicled almost every facet of
China’s modernization, from education reform and
foreign investment to Tibet’s struggle for independence.

On July 6, 2006, writer ERIC ENNO TAMM boards
that same train, intent on following in
Mannerheim’s footsteps. Initially banned from
China, TAMM devises a cover and retraces
Mannerheim’s route across the Silk Road,
discovering both eerie similarities and seismic
differences between the Middle Kingdoms of today and a century ago.

Along the way, TAMM offers piercing insights into
China’s past that raise troubling questions about
its future. Can the Communist Party truly open
China to the outside world yet keep Western ideas
such as democracy and freedom at bay, just as
Qing officials mistakenly believed? What can
reform during the late Qing Dynasty teach us
about the spectacular transformation of China
today? As Confucius once wrote—“Study the past if
you would divine the future," and that is just
what TAMM does in "The Horse that Leaps Through Clouds."

Eric Emmo Tamm
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre; First Edition edition (Sep 1 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 155365269X
ISBN-13: 978-1553652694
Price:  CDN$ 21.91
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