Jamyang Norbu has taken the stories of “forgotten” Tibetans: resistance fighters, secret agents, soldiers, peasants, lamas, aristocrats, merchants, women, officials, chieftains, even street-beggars, and skillfully worked their myriad accounts into a single glorious “memory history” of the Tibetan struggle. He uses recollections from his own childhood to ease the reader into an immersive understanding of the complexity of Tibet’s modern history: the Chinese invasion, the uprisings in Amdo and Kham, the formation of the Four Rivers Six Ranges (chuzhi-gangdrug) resistance, the March ’59 Lhasa Uprising, the CIA supported Air Operations, the Cultural Revolution, the Nyemo Peasant Uprising of 68/69 and the Mustang Guerilla Force in northern Nepal, where Norbu himself later served.
He writes of leaving home to drive tractors at refugee settlements, educate refugee children, write plays at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA) and collect intelligence for the Tibetan Office of Research and Analysis (TORA) and for France’s External Intelligence Agency (SDECE). He uses these anecdotes not so much as autobiography but as a framing device to recount the lives, deeds and, too often, tragedies of the many Tibetans he encountered and befriended throughout his life –– nearly all of whom played vital roles in shaping the recent history of their country –– but whose contributions are still unsung and forgotten. Jamyang Norbu’s lifelong commitment to collecting and orchestrating the “echoes” of these many forgotten voices from the past has resulted in a lyrical, learned and compassionate book that could well be described as the prose epic of the Tibetan freedom struggle.