Thursday, December 22, 2011

REVIEW: The 14th Dalai Lama: A Manga Biography, by Tetsu Saiwai

The 14th Dalai Lama: A Manga Biography, by Tetsu Saiwai. Published 2011 by Penguin. Graphica. Nonfiction. Biography.

Of the three books in Penguin's manga biography series, The 14th Dalai Lama is definitely my favorite and the one that ignited the most interest in its subject in me. Tenzin Gyatso was recognized at the age of 2 as the reincarnation of the Buddha of Compassion; he was whisked away from his village and brought up to be the spiritual leader of a religion and the political leader of the nation of Tibet. Then the Chinese invaded, and everything changed.

This little book does a very nice job of providing a rough outline of the Dalai Lama's early years and the events leading up to his departure from Tibet to India. I can't say the book offers a lot of detail but the reader will get a taste of the whats and the whys surrounding the takeover of Tibet, His Holiness's relationship with Mao and the roles of other Tibetan leaders, particularly the Panchen Lama. For me it was absolutely fascinating to learn more about the events that formed the basis of problems that exist in the world today. I mean, in my neighborhood you can see a Free Tibet protest almost any weekend night. I've always wanted to know more but never knew where to start.

And this book is a fine start, but it's just a start. It's definitely whet my appetite for more, though, and I've already put one book aside, the Dalai Lama's autobiography Freedom in Exile. This book is also my favorite visually; Saiwai does a really nice job bringing the story alive through the varied, expressive artwork. I'd recommend The 14th Dalai Lama for teens or anyone wishing to learn the ABCs of this important figure on the world stage, one whose story isn't over yet.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Penguin.