In This Review

Lhasa: Streets With Memories
Lhasa: Streets With Memories
By Robert Barnett
Columbia University Press, 2006, 244 pp
Purchase

Most readers of this fascinating book will finish reading it feeling that they truly know the Tibetan city regardless of whether they have ever been there. Barnett spent several months a year in Lhasa as a teacher and a scholar and thus came to know all the different parts of a city steeped in a history that goes back through British colonial expansion, Chinese conquest, and the era when Tibet dominated Central Asia. And of course there is the story of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, and the current clashes with communist China. In Lhasa, the Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple still command attention and serve to honor the greatness that was the old Tibet. But since 1959, when the Chinese occupation forced the Dalai Lama to leave, the city streets have reflected the influx of Han Chinese. There are now glitzy hotels, bars, and restaurants, as well as Soviet-style high-rise apartment buildings. As Barnett guides us around this extraordinary city, history and theology take on fresh and vividly concrete dimensions.