The memoirs of a Tibetan freedom fighter who fought in the resistance against the Chinese occupation of Tibet in the 1950s, centered on his moral progression under the influence of the Dalai Lama from vengeful violence to compassion and forgiveness.
The active resistance to the Chinese invasion of Tibet coalesced into a guerrilla army of freedom fighters, the Chushi Gangdruk. In the 1950s, China’s Red Army and communist cadres systematically slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Tibetans in Amdo and Kham, seeking to enslave the survivors. The freedom fighters waged war against overwhelming odds, losing to greater numbers, airplanes, and artillery. Fleeing to central Tibet, they helped their beloved Dalai Lama escape the 1959 massacre of Lhasa, to speak for his people in exile. Paljor Thondup’s diehard Khampa family also rose up to repel the invaders. They fought their way west through the whole thousand-mile length of Tibet, withdrawing to sanctuary in the Mustang region of Nepal. The Chushi Gangdruk, with modest CIA support, also regrouped their guerrilla army in Mustang. Eventually, certain new leaders became corrupt and gave up the fight, content with inaction to keep supplies coming. They hated the ongoing heroic raiding by Paljor’s family, and finally slaughtered them all—only Paljor and his close cousin Dupa survived. Hearing his father’s dying wishes, Paljor put down his weapons and changed his life, migrating to India to seek help from the Dalai Lama. Paljor and Dupa then began a modern education, to continue the struggle for Tibet as businessmen. Inspired by the Dalai Lama, Paljor renounced his tribal duty of blood vengeance, became a peace warrior, and conquered the inner enemy. He brings help to Tibet in its agony, sustaining the livelihoods of his long-suffering compatriots.