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The 14th Dalai Lama: A Manga Biography

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This graphic novel biography is an introduction to the leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Born in 1935 to a peasant family in a small village, Tenzin Gyatso was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. In 1950, His Holiness assumed full political power when China invaded Tibet-a tragedy that forever changed hi This graphic novel biography is an introduction to the leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Born in 1935 to a peasant family in a small village, Tenzin Gyatso was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. In 1950, His Holiness assumed full political power when China invaded Tibet-a tragedy that forever changed him and shaped his efforts on behalf of world peace, for which he was award the Nobel Peace Prize.


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This graphic novel biography is an introduction to the leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Born in 1935 to a peasant family in a small village, Tenzin Gyatso was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. In 1950, His Holiness assumed full political power when China invaded Tibet-a tragedy that forever changed hi This graphic novel biography is an introduction to the leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Born in 1935 to a peasant family in a small village, Tenzin Gyatso was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. In 1950, His Holiness assumed full political power when China invaded Tibet-a tragedy that forever changed him and shaped his efforts on behalf of world peace, for which he was award the Nobel Peace Prize.

30 review for The 14th Dalai Lama: A Manga Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Saiwai's deft hand traces the life story of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. Identified at the age of 2 as the reincarnation of the previous Lama, he and his family were moved to the spiritual capital of Lhasa, Tibet. This story briefly recounts this very early history of "Kundun", moving quickly to his adolescence, when he became both spiritual and political leader of Tibet, at age 15 in 1950, after China's invasion of Tibet. Saiwai uses a framing device for the story: the Dalai Lama, speakin Saiwai's deft hand traces the life story of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. Identified at the age of 2 as the reincarnation of the previous Lama, he and his family were moved to the spiritual capital of Lhasa, Tibet. This story briefly recounts this very early history of "Kundun", moving quickly to his adolescence, when he became both spiritual and political leader of Tibet, at age 15 in 1950, after China's invasion of Tibet. Saiwai uses a framing device for the story: the Dalai Lama, speaking to a crowd in modern day, recounting the struggle of the Tibetans and his exile to Dharamsala, advocating and spreading peace and compassion. The book serves well as a starting point / primer of Tibet and the continued struggle against Chinese occupation/ destruction of the homeland. I appreciated the accessibility of a manga book telling such a weighty and important story, and I am committed to reading more about Tibet in the coming months.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Julie Suzanne

    It was a sad story, and I did learn about the invasion of Tibet and a lot of the politics around that and the Dalai Lama's hope to some day see Tibet liberated. The graphic novel format may make the story more engaging or accessible to students who don't want to read prose about it, but it didn't do much for me. Instead of a narrative that drew me into human lives, it was more of a summary of events. The content has very little to do with Buddhism (there was room for more explanation about what It was a sad story, and I did learn about the invasion of Tibet and a lot of the politics around that and the Dalai Lama's hope to some day see Tibet liberated. The graphic novel format may make the story more engaging or accessible to students who don't want to read prose about it, but it didn't do much for me. Instead of a narrative that drew me into human lives, it was more of a summary of events. The content has very little to do with Buddhism (there was room for more explanation about what it is to be the Dalai Lama and why Tibetan people care so much about him) and focused mostly on the major events that happened in his life, which was all depressing political persecution and oppression. There is also very little about what life in Tibet was like before the Chinese Liberation Army came and imposed their will upon the Tibetans. It was one account after another of the Chinese slaughtering innocent civilians while the Dalai Lama sat helplessly by just trying to preserve and maintain their way of life through fruitless diplomacy. As a reader, I was interested in what that way of life was like. I keep reading these graphic novels because I want to find the ones that stand out to add to our collection in the library, but I keep finding myself disappointed in the lack of development of the ones I've read. Either the format doesn't lend itself to real story and character development, or I'm just finding titles whose goal is to quickly crank out a bunch of facts in the form of a narrative to allow the reader build background knowledge without truly experiencing. As with all of the ones I've read this week, I DO learn some facts and DO get an overview of the content which did make it a worthwhile read, but..... I will keep trying.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Philip

    I don't know nearly as much about the Dalai Lama as I should. But then again, a lot of people fall into that category. His is a fascinating, and deeply troubling life. Of all the people we study in my class, we study Gandhi the most. I mean, we spend a lot of time on him, India's route to independence. It would probably be good to do a comparison study of the two. To be in charge of a country at 15? A country that's being invaded by a much larger, militaristic country? And to handle it so well? The I don't know nearly as much about the Dalai Lama as I should. But then again, a lot of people fall into that category. His is a fascinating, and deeply troubling life. Of all the people we study in my class, we study Gandhi the most. I mean, we spend a lot of time on him, India's route to independence. It would probably be good to do a comparison study of the two. To be in charge of a country at 15? A country that's being invaded by a much larger, militaristic country? And to handle it so well? The book says the Scorsese film Kundun is part of the inspiration for this work. I've never seen that either. I probably should. It looks good. Trailer.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    It may seem trite, but the Dalai Lama truly is one of my heroes. I'm happy that there's a quick and accessible (especially for teens, I think) version of his story. The problem is: because it's manga, it's short (which is good) but perhaps is a bit too succinct to really get down to the nitty-gritty of the entire story. I enjoyed it because I enjoy him, and I'd recommend it for manga and Dalai Lama enthusiasts alike. In the snowy mountain paradise, You’re the source of good and happiness. Powerful It may seem trite, but the Dalai Lama truly is one of my heroes. I'm happy that there's a quick and accessible (especially for teens, I think) version of his story. The problem is: because it's manga, it's short (which is good) but perhaps is a bit too succinct to really get down to the nitty-gritty of the entire story. I enjoyed it because I enjoy him, and I'd recommend it for manga and Dalai Lama enthusiasts alike. In the snowy mountain paradise, You’re the source of good and happiness. Powerful Tenzin Gyatso, Chenrezig, May you stay until samsara ends. (A long-life prayer for his holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama)

  5. 5 out of 5

    ||Swaroop||

    a very good illustrative way of learning more about the Dalai Lama... and struggles of the Tibetan people...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kyrie

    It was a quick overview of a part of history and current events that I'm unfamiliar with. It gave me a desire to read other things to help form my own opinion.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Raquel

    Wow I really loved this short read! I never realized how ignorant I was about the plight of Tibet. Free Tibet!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Abhishek

    A very nice read regarding the life of the 14th Dalai Lama which tells his story from his early years till the time he left Tibet to seek asylum in India. Even though the story is told in comic form, yet the matter is given the respect it deserves. The storyline is descriptive enough for someone who is studying the life of the Dalai Lama for the first time. The complexities of the Tibet-China relations are explained in an easy to understand manner. The illustrations are very nice and are in compl A very nice read regarding the life of the 14th Dalai Lama which tells his story from his early years till the time he left Tibet to seek asylum in India. Even though the story is told in comic form, yet the matter is given the respect it deserves. The storyline is descriptive enough for someone who is studying the life of the Dalai Lama for the first time. The complexities of the Tibet-China relations are explained in an easy to understand manner. The illustrations are very nice and are in complete sync with the story being told. The moods and the situations of the story are beautifully captured by the illustrations. All in all a very nice read for someone trying to get an introduction to the life of the Dalai Lama and the Tibet-China conflict. Don't expect the book to go into the minutest details as this book is meant to be the ultimate authority on the subject.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    This was an enjoyable, yet very depressing, GO on the D.L. His story is well known, but what I want to know is how America justified Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and others, but has never been able to help out the Tibetan people? I think we know the reasons why - no oil, political, or financial gain to be made from an extremely poor people. Up with Kundun!

  10. 5 out of 5

    John

    This is an interesting little manga version of the Dalai Lama's story. It's pretty simply rendered, but it tells the incredible story of this man, who has held to the ideal of peace and nonviolence in the face of incredible brutality. A quick read and probably a good introduction to this very interesting man.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Felipe Chiaramonte

    Biografia em mangá do mais recente e 14o Dalai Lama, com grande contexto histórico e urgentemente atual. Bem direta e sem muitas preocupações estéticas, além do básico. Uma jeito fácil, rápido e indolor para começar a se inteirar sobre o Tibete, os Lamas e o budismo. PS: Para uma leitura lírica sobre o mesmo tema, recomendo "The White Lama", quadrinhos em dois volumes do Jodorowsy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    James

    A graphic novel on the 14th Dalai Lama (hence the clever title). It tells the story of his selection and training, and Tibet's invasion by the PRC, resulting in his eventual exile. Gives a nice historical overview. This book is light on Buddhism and explores more the struggle for independence and freedom for Tibet.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ash

    I really enjoyed this manga style biographical novel. It was a fast and informative read. It sparked my interest so much that I found myself looking up photographs and information that had been covered in the book. If you want to learn more about the Dalai Lama or the struggle in Tibet, this is definitely the book for you.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sasha Boersma

    Very simply done, does not explore issues very deeply. However, this work does help make the story of Tibet and the 14th Dalai Lama very accessible to those who not otherwise be aware. A "gateway text" that hopefully encourages readers to explore the tragedy further.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kawen

    Junto com "A Gata do Dalai Lama" e "Sete Anos no Tibet", formam um grupo de obras bem interessantes, principalmente pra quem quer aprender um pouco mais sobre o budismo e essa figura tão carismática que é o décimo quarto Dalai Lama.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Vinay Keerthi

    Beautiful art and a straightforward story.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nanna

    Bacaan yang menghibur dan sangat bermanfaat. Gambar simpel, tapi maksud cerita tersampaikan dengan baik. Banyak pelajaran yang bisa dipetik dari komik ini.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Meepelous

    While it appears as if this is the only work by Tetsu Saiwai to have been translated/published in English so far, rest assured that according to his Penguin profile he has also written other educational material dealing with human rights and the environment. The visual presentation of this work is extremely good. Tetsu deserves a lot of credit for being able to make this book both extremely interesting and extremely readable. A true all ages introduction to the life of the 14th Dalai Lama. One of While it appears as if this is the only work by Tetsu Saiwai to have been translated/published in English so far, rest assured that according to his Penguin profile he has also written other educational material dealing with human rights and the environment. The visual presentation of this work is extremely good. Tetsu deserves a lot of credit for being able to make this book both extremely interesting and extremely readable. A true all ages introduction to the life of the 14th Dalai Lama. One of the key ways I feel like Tetsu was able to accomplish this visually was through the use of subtle visual characterization on top of a strict balance between simple and clean character design and more intricate backgrounds. This meant that the characters popped off the page. The page layouts for the manga are also pretty simple and easy to follow, but the eye towards dramatic framing meant that I couldn't actually put this thing down. The Dalai Lama's life has certainly not been boring, but I do feel like some people might have been tempted to create something less action oriented since he is such an active proponent of peace etc. A lot of the negative reviews about this book seem to focus on the fact that it doesn't cover this or that in as much detail as the reader was expecting. As a fairly introductory text, I feel like it's important to keep in mind that any one thing cannot be all things to all people. Plus there is a decent bibliography listed in the back for deeper digging. Since this is such an unquestioningly positive view of the 14th Dalai Lama I did end up googling "who hates the Dalai Lama" just to be sure I was getting the whole story. Based off of the content of the manga I was not surprised to find that a majority of the results were about China, and I don't feel like that was glossed over in the manga. Otherwise, there seems to be a group in the USA that thinks he is a Muslim in league with Nazis. I was actually a bit surprised that this was the closest thing to a conspiracy theory I did find. But even after that google search, I would certainly not call myself any sort of expert on that exactly.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    This is a lovely little book which I stumbled across in my local Kinokuniya (a Japanese bookstore chain). As the title states, this is a biography of the current reincarnation of the Dalai Lama presented in manga form. The illustrations are endearing and powerful, particularly when presenting the Dalai Lama's childhood as a youngster surrounded by older monks, his parents, and advisors. The story of the Dalai Lama's life is told in a very straightforward and simple way, but the issues surroundin This is a lovely little book which I stumbled across in my local Kinokuniya (a Japanese bookstore chain). As the title states, this is a biography of the current reincarnation of the Dalai Lama presented in manga form. The illustrations are endearing and powerful, particularly when presenting the Dalai Lama's childhood as a youngster surrounded by older monks, his parents, and advisors. The story of the Dalai Lama's life is told in a very straightforward and simple way, but the issues surrounding the Chinese takeover of Tibet, the struggle for autonomy, and the flight into exile, are never oversimplified. His Holiness' own words are used to demonstrate his doctrine of nonviolence and his dedication to the freedom of Tibet as a country and the imperative of freedom, democracy, and basic human rights for all people. I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in Tibet, Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, and nonviolent resistance.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Monique

    Saiwai's take on the 14th Dalai Lama and China's invasion of Tibet was interesting and informative, but a bit light. It feels like it was probably made for younger readers. And as a book on history, its one I could recommend to 9-12 year olds, depending on their emotional maturity and reading ability. It deals with some pretty dark topics, but does so in a very accessible way. If you're a parent who would like to have your child learn a bit about the history of other countries, check this book o Saiwai's take on the 14th Dalai Lama and China's invasion of Tibet was interesting and informative, but a bit light. It feels like it was probably made for younger readers. And as a book on history, its one I could recommend to 9-12 year olds, depending on their emotional maturity and reading ability. It deals with some pretty dark topics, but does so in a very accessible way. If you're a parent who would like to have your child learn a bit about the history of other countries, check this book out. But read it first to make sure its suitable for your child's level. Prior to reading this, I wasn't really aware of what happened in Tibet under Mao's rule. It makes me curious to read more into that history, and the modern issues that stem from it. As an educational resource it seems to do a decent job. But as a comic it wasn't anything mind-blowing. Its a very middle-of-the-road read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sean Van

    The illustrations are cute, and the manga is overall quite accurate to what I have learned from my religious studies class about the process in which a Dalai Lama is chosen, and the way their path in life proceeds to unfold once they become chosen. The story is pretty easy to follow without prior knowledge of Buddhism.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Arca

    I really want something like this to exist. Some of the writing / storytelling wasn’t as good as I had hoped. That being said, enough of it passable that it did carry a good amount of info that is so important. Most notable for me, is that I’m hoping this format makes this point of view more accessible for more humans and readers !

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    I finished reading The 14th Dalai Lama by Tetsu Saiwai and I rate this book a 3/5 because it was a little bit boring but at the same time I learned some word in a different language. It is about a a young smart boy the turned into the leader of his country, after years he becomes a better leader

  24. 4 out of 5

    Fillipe Ferrari

    Me passou uma noção ótima da invasão do Tibet e sua causa pacífica. traços Simples porém bons na expressão

  25. 4 out of 5

    South Brunswick High School Library

    For one who is unfamiliar with the life of the Dalai Lama, this graphic novel offers a good starting point for understanding the rise of this respected religious leader.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa True

    Read this to and from the Arboretum! A great visual primer on the early years

  27. 4 out of 5

    Maxie

    Interesting biography of Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso. Manga is a creative way to attract the newer generation to learn history be it the world’s or their own country.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    Learned some stuff. I feel like it's a nice introductory book, especially for young people. An original twist on your typical biography.

  29. 4 out of 5

    crashy

    Rovnako dobré ako film Kundun 1997! :)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This graphic novel biography of the 14th Dalai Lama puts an accessible spin on the life of Tibet's spiritual and political leader. It's a great introduction if you don't know anything at all about Tibet or the Dalai Lama - like me. Starting when he was discovered as the 14th incarnation of the Dalai Lama when he was two, the reader follows Tenzin Gyatso's travels through the years. He spent his early years in training and education before becoming the leader of the country in 1950 at just 15 yea This graphic novel biography of the 14th Dalai Lama puts an accessible spin on the life of Tibet's spiritual and political leader. It's a great introduction if you don't know anything at all about Tibet or the Dalai Lama - like me. Starting when he was discovered as the 14th incarnation of the Dalai Lama when he was two, the reader follows Tenzin Gyatso's travels through the years. He spent his early years in training and education before becoming the leader of the country in 1950 at just 15 years old - when China invaded. The next few years seemed to be full of turmoil for the young leader, ending in his escape from the country for his own protection, due to China's continued occupation. The black and white art is very soft/rounded, friendly and doesn't get in the way of the story. It's clear and appealing - some of my favorite qualities in manga art. The story is rather abbreviated, and I'm sure simplified, but I still think it provides a good overview. It's cute, it's accessible, and it's interesting. Highly recommended to both adults and children.

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