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Biography of a Tibetan Revolutionary Highlights Complexity of Modern Tibetan Politics
0[Saturday, June 19, 2004 19:06]
The University of California Press has just published the biography of well known Tibetan political leader Bapa Phuntsok Wangyal (Spelt variously as Bapa Phuntso Wangye, Bapa Phuntsok Wanggyal, etc.). The book deals with the tumultuous history of modern Tibet as experienced directly by Mr. Phuntsok Wangyal, first as the founder of the Tibetan Communist Party and later as a dedicated member of the Communist Party of China.

The book is called, A Tibetan Revolutionary-- The Political Life and Times of Bapa Phüntso Wangye by Melvyn C. Goldstein, Dawei Sherap, and William R. Siebenschuh (University of California Press, Berkeley, USA , 2004, $24.95 or £16.95 )

According to the University of California Press, "This is the as-told-to political autobiography of Phüntso Wangye (Phünwang), one of the most important Tibetan revolutionary figures of the twentieth century. Phünwang began his activism in school, where he founded a secret Tibetan Communist Party. He was expelled in 1940, and for the next nine years he worked to organize a guerrilla uprising against the Chinese who controlled his homeland. In 1949, he merged his Tibetan Communist Party with Mao's Chinese Communist Party. He played an important role in the party's administrative organization in Lhasa and was the translator for the young Dalai Lama during his famous 1954-55 meetings with Mao Zedong. In the 1950s, Phünwang was the highest-ranking Tibetan official within the Communist Party in Tibet. Though he was fluent in Chinese, comfortable with Chinese culture, and devoted to socialism and the Communist Party, Phünwang's deep commitment to the welfare of Tibetans made him suspect to powerful Han colleagues. In 1958 he was secretly detained; three years later, he was imprisoned in solitary confinement in Beijing's equivalent of the Bastille for the next eighteen years.

"Informed by vivid firsthand accounts of the relations between the Dalai Lama, the Nationalist Chinese government, and the People's Republic of China, this absorbing chronicle illuminates one of the world's most tragic and dangerous ethnic conflicts at the same time that it relates the fascinating details of a stormy life spent in the quest for a new Tibet. "

John L. Holden, President, National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, commends the book saying, "These extraordinary memoirs dictated by a key figure in the history of 20th century Sino-Tibetan relations are essential reading for all interested in understanding this important subject. The founder of the Tibetan Communist Party recalls vividly his personal role in the epic struggle of the Tibetan people over tradition and modernity, and the hopes, betrayals and tragedies that have marked it. The idealism, honesty and courage that have defined his life are in full evidence in this gripping personal narrative."-

Following is the content of the book as released by the University of California Press on its website.

List of Illustrations
Note on Romanization and Abbreviations
List of Key Persons
Introduction. A Brief Historical Context

1. Childhood in Batang
2. The Coup of Lobsang Thundrup
3. School Years

4. Planning Revolution
5. Returning to Kham
6. To Lhasa
7. The Indian Communist Party
8. On the Verge of Revolt
9. Escape to Tibet
10. From Lhasa to Yunnan

11. The Return to Batang
12. The Seventeen-Point Agreement
13. To Lhasa Again
14. With the PLA in Lhasa
15. A Year of Problems
16. An Interlude in Beijing
17. Beginning Reforms

18. Tension in Lhasa
19. Labeled a Local Nationalist
20. To Prison
21. Solitary Confinement
22. A Vow of Silence

23. Release from Prison
24. A New Struggle
25. Nationalities Policy

Epilogue. A Comment by Phünwang
Appendix A. Original Charter of the Eastern Tibet People's Autonomous Alliance
Appendix B. Summary of Talks with Tibetan Exile Delegations
Appendix C. Some Opinions on Amending the Constitution with Regard to Nationalities
Glossary of Correct Tibetan Spellings

Melvyn C. Goldstein is John Reynolds Harkness Professor in Anthropology and Codirector of the Center for Research on Tibet at Case Western Reserve University. Dawei Sherap is a Tibetan-born intellectual living and working in China. He has written extensively on Phünwang. William R. Siebenschuh is Chair of the English Department at Case Western Reserve University.
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  Readers' Comments »
We are one. (Dawa)
I salute Phunwang (DD)
Face value. (Tibet)
A must read book for the Pakkas! (Kachcha)
book couldn't be found in delhi (sonam)
Bapa Phuntsok Wangyal (Derge Tsering)
Bapa Phunstok Wangyal (Tsering)
Bapa Phunstok Wangyal (Tsering)
Bapa Phunwang- freedom fighter (khechok)
Tibet is tibetan land, not chinese; the major mistake of Phunwang. (Tenam)
Bapa Phunwang (Free Tibet)
I got the other view... (freelance)
A Tibetan Revolutionary (Andrugtsang)
A Tibetan Revolutionary (Namay Mandap)
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