Let me mention a clarifying, valuable, and short book on the subject: The Snow Lion and the Dragon, by the Tibet scholar Melvyn Goldstein.
 
SnowLion1.jpgIt's not quite a literary book, but it is a fact-filled and lucid explanation of the interactions, over the centuries, between respective rulers of China and those in control of Tibet. This includes "political Tibet" as now defined as an "autonomous region" of China, and the much larger "Greater Tibet" that spreads across several other Chinese regions and provinces where ethnic Tibetans live. Among other virtues, the book makes clear why the Chinese government can say what it does -- about China and Tibet having been connected in some form for centuries -- but also why Tibetans can say what they do, about their de facto independence in the 40 years before the Chinese Communists reasserted control.

Anyone working seriously in this field already knows about this book. Indeed I heard about it from Orville Schell, China expert and former dean of the UC Berkeley journalism school, when I asked him where to start on the topic. I mention it less for experts than for the much larger group of people who feel they should have some opinion on "the Tibet Question" but aren't that sure about the historical facts.

While admiring this book, maybe we can also agree that no future book about China need include the cliche "the Dragon" in its title?

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