Robert A. F. Tenzin Th urman
I am honored to herald Ken Knaus’s masterful account of Ameri-
ca’s role in Tibet’s agonizing and inspiring progress into a future
that is still uncertain, either marvelous or horrendous! Th e world is
undergoing dramatic transformations, and Knaus’s well- researched
and insightful narrative brings to life the human reality of key con-
tributors to the outcome. I especially admire how he has skillfully
drawn out, from the tangled web of events and ideas over the
century, the central thread of America’s hesitant and intermittent
recognition of the human right of self- determination as being the
seed of the solution to all the rush of tragedies.
Reading about the ups and downs of America’s involvement in
Tibetan aff airs, ranging from W. W. Rockhill’s 1909 conversations
with His Holiness the Great Th irteenth Dalai Lama up to Barack
Obama’s 2010– 11 meetings with His Holiness the Great Fourteenth,
is like attending an epic recital, ending with the dramatic suspense of
the unknowns we face everywhere today, confronting prospects
of great danger and great potential. Knaus perceptively reveals the
transformations that the Tibetan people have suff ered through,
and he is clearly appreciative of the struggles and achievements of
their leader, the Dalai Lama, over six de cades.
A distinguishing factor that enormously raises the value of the
book is that Knaus, while having his eyes wide open about the
foibles and virtues of the many actors in these events, actually
likes the Tibetan people. He has known them well under life- and-
death conditions by working with them as a cia operative, trying
to help them regain their freedom. Even though that help was
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