In Th e Tale of Genji Murasaki Shikibu wrote, “Th e storyteller’s
own experience of men and things, whether good or ill— not only
what he has passed through himself, but even events which he has
only witnessed or been told of— has moved him to an emotion so
passionate that he can no longer keep it shut up in his heart. Again
and again something in his own life or in that around him will
seem to the writer so important that he cannot bear to let it pass
into oblivion. Th ere must never come a time, he feels, when men
do not know about it.”
I have had the privilege of knowing and working with the Ti-
betans over the past half- century as they have fought and main-
tained the struggle for the right to live in their own country ac-
cording to the beliefs that defi ne their unique identity. Consequently
I feel the need to record what I know of this history and the vari-
able role that the United States government and people have
played in preserving it. It is a chronicle of events, personalities,
objectives, and politics— some noble and some self- serving—
that have defi ned the role that the United States government and
people with varying constancy have played and continue to play
in the past and future of Tibet. It is the legend of a people, their
leader, and the actions they have taken to preserve their home-
land, their way of life, and their identity as an active presence in
the contemporary world.
Th e history of America’s contributions to the preservation of
this unique culture attained enhanced relevance in 2008 from the
spontaneous protests raised in Lhasa which spread and continue
throughout Tibet protesting China’s rule of their country and the
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