The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong: The Untold Story of My Struggle for Tibet

In This Review

The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong: The Untold Story of My Struggle for Tibet
By Gyalo Thondup and Anne F. Thurston
PublicAffairs, 2015

This book’s self-effacing title disguises the fact that Thondup, an elder brother of the Dalai Lama, is one of the most important figures in the history of the Tibetan diaspora. For many years, Thondup was the go-to Tibetan interlocutor for foreign governments and China. The book is full of tales of international intrigue, recounting Thondup’s meetings in the 1950s with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the Taiwanese leader Chiang Kai-shek, who Thondup says personally paid for him to attend college. Thondup also claims that he was the CIA’s contact person in Tibet and that he even managed the agency’s clandestine base in Nepal. Later, when Deng Xiaoping came to power in China, Thondup writes that he was summoned to Beijing to discuss renewed negotiations between China and the Dalai Lama. Still, Thondup offers very few substantial revelations about Tibet’s recent history. And the book is marred by speculation that verges on conspiracy theorizing; indeed, in a postscript, Thondup’s co-author, Thurston, actually questions the veracity of Thondup’s story. In Thondup’s telling, the 1987–89 protests in Tibet were engineered by foreign governments and Beijing’s negotiations with the Dalai Lama were sabotaged by the Indian government. These are fascinating allegations, but Thondup offers little evidence to support them.

Enjoy more high quality articles like this one.

Become a Subscriber

  • Paywall-free reading of new articles posted daily online and almost a century of archives
  • Unlock access to iOS/Android apps to save editions for offline reading
  • Six issues a year in print, online, and audio editions
Subscribe Now

More Reviews on Asia and Pacific From This Issue

Browse All Capsule Reviews

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.