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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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Customer Reviews

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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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. Harrer eventually became tutor to the teenaged Dalai Lama. 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.

The story is a classic. The photos are very good.
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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 The Roof of the World April 20 2001
Format:Audio Cassette
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. The irony here is that Harrer doesn't tell the story in a sensual manner. Conversely he imparts an amazingly factual, nonsensual account. But reading it seemed to infuse my senses. I liken the experience to reading Jane Smiley's Greenlanders. Even when Harrer relates the story of his leaving Tibet, it's very curt, short and without much emotion, but as the reader, I was deeply sadened. This book made me want to seek out additional information on Tibet.
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5.0 out of 5 stars To Lhasa March 16 2001
"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 in Tibet; a fascinating glimpse at the varied places he visited there, the character of the people, and their lifestyle in the 1940s (a curious mix of ancient Buddhism, medieval feudalism and modern radios); anecdotes that reveal the personality of the Dalai Lama; and an account of the period of the Chinese invasion. It is a wonderful true story, written for a western audience by a distinctly adventurous man. Anyone interested in the mystery of this isolated country will find some of the reality emerge in this affectionate, straightforward, well-paced volume.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Cultural Gift Dec 17 2000
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 time past. It is written simply and without embellishment. That is its greatest strength.
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Most recent customer reviews
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 Seven Years in Tibet, Life Experience
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. Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2000 by Matthew M. Yau
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 Seven Year in Tibet - Top Notch.
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... Read more
Published on May 19 2000 by Ian A. Inman (
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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