By Danielle Paine
LONGMEADOW Author Thomas Laird will bring his 30 years of insight and observations on Tibet and the Dalai Lama to Bay Path College this week on a tour stop for his newest book, "The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama."
This popular 1,000-year history of the war-torn country was compiled by Laird from 60 hours of conversations with the 14th Dalai Lama. He will be speaking and signing the book on Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. at Baypath. Proceeds from his book sales there will be donated to the Children's School of Western Tibet Foundation charity.
"I think may people may think the Tibetan history doesn't really matter and that's false," Laird said.
"If you think that Tibetan history has nothing to do with you, look at what is going on today. Tibet is a cautionary political tale."
It was when Laird asked his friend, the Dalai Lama, about Tibetan history that he received the despondent reply "it is complicated." Laird then began to formulate the idea for this book. Laird said to him, "it doesn't have to be so complicated" and asked the Dalai Lama to write the history of Tibet with him.
"I wanted to convey to the average people what the Dalai Lama knew about Tibetan history and how he learned it," Laird said. "He is so funny, always laughing and his wisdom really shines through. He reveals this history in an illuminating way that I think almost anyone would be fascinated by."
Now a New Orleans resident, Laird, 53, journied to Nepal at age 18 where he fell in love with the Himalayan mountain range and the hundreds of thousands of Tibetan refugees living in India. Laird himself would live in Tibet and India for a total of 30 years before moving back to the United States in 1999.
"As I was getting into the middle of this book I felt a responsibility to return to the United States," Laird said. "When you live overseas you learn the value of America's democracy."
He supported himself as a freelance photographer while overseas, eventually becoming a journalist who wrote and photographed stories for a vast array of publications from the National Geographic and National Enquirer to the New York Times.
This is Laird's third book on Tibet. The first, "Into Tibet" documented the story of Douglas Mackiernan, the CIA's first spy to be killed in a covert operation. The second was a "coffee table" book titled, "The Dalai Lama's secret temple."
For more information, or to contact Laird, visit www.thestoryoftibet.com.