Escape from the Land of Snows, by Stephen Talty (Hardcover, 2011)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
This book would make a great movie. It tells a great story in a
Because the Notes section shows interviews with people who were there
and the bibliography reveals a significant number of source books, I
began reading this book with the impression that it was documentary in
Unfortunately, it's not. Some of the details didn't seem right, but I
thought maybe the author was just "filling in" to make things more
interesting while still presenting something historically accurate. Then
I came to where the author referred to Mongolia as having been taken
over by China. Mr. Talty should have done a little research about the
whole Chinese-Japanese-Russian intrigue around 1936. Mongolia has been
an independent nation since 1945. That's not a good detail to get wrong.
As noted, some other details struck me as perhaps incorrect. Experts
on the subjects this book touches may wish to go through the effort of
vetting those details. As for me, I just wanted to enjoy the story. In
terms of accuracy, I would advise the reader to filter out "facts" that
didn't arise directly from interviews with participants in the Tibetan
uprising and the Dalai Lama's flight to India (which facts these happen
to be is obvious as you read).
Many of the details come from the Tibetan victims, as the Notes in back
indicate. This book doesn't present details from the Chinese viewpoint,
rendering the Chinese a bit stereotyped as brainwashed civil rights
abusers. Then again, the Chinese government has demonstrated such a
"personality" in other venues. That said, the United States contains
half the world's prison population and China has more than four times
the population the USA does. And the IRS is an American, not Chinese,
I would have liked to see more balance, though probably that would have
been very difficult to achieve. The author could improve this book by
some judicious editing to remove material not directly related to the
core story. That would improve the overall accuracy, or perception
thereof. It would also make the story move along a little faster, though
the speed of the story wasn't a problem.
Even with some errors in it, this book does present a well-written
account of what probably happened. It's a good human story, even if it
doesn't quite make the grade as an historical one. I felt I benefitted
by reading it.
The version I read was the uncorrected proof in paperback. I don't
know how many pages the final version in hardback will have (I am
writing this the month before its schedule release date). The version I
read contains sixteen chapters and an Epilogue, occupying 264 pages.