The first definitive biography of the Dalai Lama—a story by turns inspiring, surprising—from an acclaimed Tibetan scholar with exceptional access to his subject
The Dalai Lama’s message of peace and compassion resonates with people of all faiths and none. Yet, for all his worldwide fame, he remains personally elusive. Now, Alexander Norman, acclaimed Oxford-trained scholar of the history of Tibet, delivers the definitive biography—unique, multilayered, and at times even shocking.
The Dalai Lama illuminates an astonishing odyssey from isolated Tibetan village to worldwide standing as spiritual and political leader of one of the world’s most profound and complex cultural traditions. Norman reveals that, while the Dalai Lama has never been comfortable with his political position, he has been a canny player—at one time CIA-backed—who has maneuvered amidst pervasive violence, including placing himself at the center of a dangerous Buddhist schism. Yet even more surprising than the political, Norman convinces, is the Dalai Lama’s astonishing spiritual practice, rooted in magic, vision, and prophecy—details of which are illuminated in this book for the first time.
A revelatory life story of one of today’s most radical, charismatic, and beloved world leaders.
About the Author
ALEXANDER NORMAN first met the Dalai Lama thirty years ago. Since then he has collaborated with the Tibetan Leader on several best-selling books, including the autobiography Freedom in Exile. He is the author of a critically acclaimed history of the Dalai Lamas, Holder of the White Lotus. In addition, he has served as a speech writer for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and on the Tibetan leader’s Special Review Committee. He is president of the London-based charity Help Tibet.
“Alexander Norman's book is a revelation, placing the Dalai Lama in a vividly-told historical context while giving the reader an intimate glimpse of the man himself.” —Jim Kelly, Air Mail
“Alexander Norman is uniquely qualified among western observers to deliver a definitive account of one of the most remarkable lives of the past century. His thoughtful and insightful biography is unlikely to be surpassed any time soon.” —Dr. Solomon George FitzHerbert, Departmental Lecturer in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies, University of Oxford
“A compelling portrait . . . definitive book, which is sure to attract anyone seeking more insight into this enduring leader.” —Library Journal
“A thorough catalogue of the Dalai Lama’s thinking and worldview . . . anyone interested in the Dalai Lama’s spiritual influence will enjoy this insider biography.” —Publishers Weekly
“[Norman] brings well-grounded authority to his portrayal of a figure revered throughout the world for his joyfulness, generosity, and compassion . . . a sturdy, comprehensive look at the Dalai Lama and his tumultuous world.” —KirkusReviews