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Seven Years In Tibet [Paperback]

Heinrich Harrer
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 12 2012
Heinrich Harrer, already a famous mountaineer and Olympic ski champion, was caught by the outbreak of World War II while climbing the Himalyas. Being an Austrian, he was interned in India. On his third attempt, he succeeded in escaping from the internment camp and fled into Tibet. After a series of experiences in a country never crossed before by a Westerner, Harrer reached the Forbidden City of Lhasa. He stayed there for seven years, learned the language and acquired a greater understanding of Tibet and the Tibetans. He became friend and tutor to the young Dalai Lama and finally accompanied him into India when he was put to flight by the Red Chinese invasion. This film tie-in edition includes an epilogue from the author describing his return to Tibet in the 1990s.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Originally published in 1953, this adventure classic recounts Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer's 1943 escape from a British internment camp in India, his daring trek across the Himalayas, and his happy sojourn in Tibet, then, as now, a remote land little visited by foreigners. Warmly welcomed, he eventually became tutor to the Dalai Lama, teenaged god-king of the theocratic nation. The author's vivid descriptions of Tibetan rites and customs capture its unique traditions before the Chinese invasion in 1950, which prompted Harrer's departure. A 1996 epilogue details the genocidal havoc wrought over the past half-century.


'It deserves its place among the few great travel stories of our times.' The Times 'This is an absorbing and remarkable travel tale that also gives unparalleled accounts of the life and customs of an inaccessible region.' Sunday Times 'Few adventurers in this century have had the combined luck and hardihood to return with such news as this. Fewer still have rendered it so powerfully unadorned.' Times Literary Supplement 'Some books, like some mountains, are lonely and unrivalled peaks. This is one of them.' Economist --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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By the end of August 1939, we had completed our reconnaissance. Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A CONTINUALLY AMAZING ADVENTURE STORY. March 13 2002
I avoided reading this book for many years due to the poor film that was made of it. I figured the book would be equally as poor.
I warn any reader of this review not to make the same mistake that I did. The book is almost totally unlike the movie, which starred a greatly miscast Brad Pitt, and interjected subplots born in Hollywood, rather than Harrer's fine book.
There was no need to embellish one of the most fascinating, amazing and adventurous stories ever told, and a true one at that. Most of the time I couldn't believe what I was reading, including the first half of the book which recounts Harrer's and Aufschnaiter's arduous two year-long trek over Tibetan mountains, or the Tibetan people and culture of the last part of the book, so different than any country that I know of.
A glimpse of the Dalai Lama as a boy is revealing (interested in math, languages and geography, but feeling no closeness to horses, of which he had many); life in the monasteries, and in Lhasa itself.
This is such a different book, as I suppose Tibet was (is?) different. It is also a cry for the return of Tibet to the Tibetans. Almost anyone reading this book will join that cry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brief, informative piece on old Tibet Jan. 1 1998
By A Customer
Heinrich Harrer gives a personal view of Tibet as it was before Chinese occupation by the Reds in 1959, and shows with an unmistakable wit his love for the country and its people. He emphasizes the hospitality of the Tibetan people, and, at the same time, their wish to be a "forbidden land," a country that wants no foreigners. Harrer's recollection of his journey from India to the Tibetan frontier, to Lhasa is splendidly described, and mildly illustrates the harshness of the Himalayas and its climate. Harrer also tells of his relationship with the present Dalai Lama, who was at the time of Harrer's residence in Tibet only a boy. Harrer's thought's on Tibetan Buddhism, and how superstitious the Tibetans are, is written in an overt, yet skeptical style. A grand read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant reading Aug. 22 2001
Not being a writer, Harrer has created a very pleasant book describing his years as a prisoner in India, his escapes, and his travels through Tibet as he and his companion Aufschnaiter try to reach Tibet's forbidden city, Lhasa. The narrative is smooth, making the reader walk with them as they deceive Tibet's authorities and thieves, finding friendship among the nomads, spending months across the country. Reaching Lhasa, the story changes to the way of life of the Tibetans, and his own, as he comes to consider Tibet his new home. He is able to picture the religious festivities, the fundaments of their budhaism, the social skills, the way the people see their God-king, the Dalai Lama. The only part of the story I think is not well developed enough is his relationship with the Dalai Lama, he spents only the last final two chapters with it. The end of the book is a little too quick, which represents the way he was forced by the chinese to leave Tibet. A very good book, and one can learn a lot about Tibet with it. The real stuff, not the kind of things you hear when some fancy movie star says he's budhist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Seven Years in Tibet, Life Experience Nov. 26 2000
Three months after finishing and putting down the book, I'm still so inspired by the whole Heinrich Harrer tale and his experience in Tibet. This is the coming about of the second review of the book.
The book starts off at the outbreak of World War II. Heinrich Harrer and his mountain climbing associates, while attemtping the Nanga Parbat mountain, were arrested by the British and were imprisoned in Indian internment camp located near the border with Tibet.
After securing enough life necessities and supplies, Harrer and his friend Peter Aufschnaiter escaped and set out for the Indian-Tibetan border.
The road to Lhasa was strenuous, arduous, and painful. Harrer and Aufschnaiter struggled with winter blizzard, depleting supplies, mountain sickness, and even risk of robbers. They had to obtain license upon arrival in unexplored territory. They risked the refusal to enter Tibet without a permit. They risked their life as their supplies won't last for the trip.
Upon arrival into the country, they were greeted with curiosity, meticulousness, guard, and warmth. They were housed in government mansion; treated sumptuous Tibetan meal; tailored expensive hand-crafted embroidered wardrobe. From day to day throng of visitors came visit these newly-arrived foreigners.
Heinrich Harrer lived in Lhasa for almost 5 years. He performed plumbing and other technical servies for his friends and government officials. He taught children how to read and write English. He introduced ice-skating to Tibetans by sticking a knife underneath the boots.
The most significant portion of this book is the detailed yet sentimental description of Harrer's relationship with the young Dalai Lama.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Seven Year in Tibet - Top Notch. May 19 2000
The story of a dramatic escape by Heinrich Harrer and his climbing associate Peter Aufschnaiter from and Indian internment camp after their arrest by the British when they were attempting to climb Nanga Parbat, at the outbreak of World War II. The book details their journey across Tibet including their near demise with the Khampas, before reaching Lhasa and in my view, discovering a way of looking at life very different to our own. The book then goes on to cover Heinrich Harrer's relationship with the Young Dalai Lama and the Dalai Lama's enthusiasm to learn more about the world he lived in. The book also provides an insight into life in Lhasa before the coming of the Chinese. Finishing with the onset of the Chinese occupation and the flight of the Dalai Lama, I found this to be a very well written book and it can be seen throughout the book how the very personality of the author changes from how I would describe as something not to far short of arrogance at the beginning to someone who cared very much about a people who just wanted to be able to get on with a way of live that had lasted for centuries and which to a great degree they were content with, but due to circumstances beyond their control, they were unable to do. I read this book after visiting Tibet myself in 1998 and the contrast between the Tibet described in the book and that which I saw was a sharp one. Heinrich Harrer himself returned to Tibet in 1982 and observed the changes himself (detailed in 'Return to Tibet', more of a thesis than a story, but nevertheless essential reading after 'Seven Years in Tibet'), noting the loss of much he had held dear when he was there in the 1940's. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating true adventure story with vivid descriptions of Tibetan...
Harrer recounts the story of his escape with Peter Aufschnaiter from a British internment camp in India in 1944, their daring trek across the Tibet, and their happy stay in Tibet. Read more
Published on Oct. 1 2009 by Jerome Ryan
3.0 out of 5 stars trudging through Tibet
After reading all the glowing customers' reviews, I am embarrassed yet compelled to say that I didn't think the book was all that great. Read more
Published on April 20 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars The Roof of the World
When you read this book, you can almost feel like your standing on the edge of the world, looking out over the mountains, feeling the cold wind and the solitude. Read more
Published on April 20 2001 by "sickvickie"
5.0 out of 5 stars To Lhasa
"Seven Years in Tibet" is many things: a thrilling account of the author's escape from a prison camp in India and his personal story of subsequent hardships hiking to and... Read more
Published on March 16 2001 by kennedy19
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cultural Gift
This book invoked a beautifully tragic scene of Tibet. The inner peace of the people is contrasted by Chinese expansionists, and I can't help but to feel a sort of sorrow for a... Read more
Published on Dec 17 2000 by Ian Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars An immersive book with a sense of adventure.
The fact that the story actually happened is quite extraordinary. The book details the lives of two climbers who were imprisoned and escaped to Tibet. Read more
Published on Aug. 25 2000 by iamcdn
5.0 out of 5 stars Open Our Eyes to the Seemingly Unknown Horizon
I came across this book while I was browsing through the travel narrative shelf of a local bookstore. I decided to purchase it after i finish reading the opening chapter! Read more
Published on Aug. 14 2000 by Matthew M. Yau
5.0 out of 5 stars An useful guide for travellers
I decided to read the book when I started thinking about travelling to Tibet (and after gaining a book of Dalai Lama). Read more
Published on April 24 2000 by Miriam Sanger
5.0 out of 5 stars The transformation of a troubled soul
The saga of a troubled soul that finds a piece of mind, true "nirvana" at the roof of a world. This is more than and adventure book. Read more
Published on April 24 2000 by Roger Santos
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