The Tibetans: A Struggle to Survive
By Steve Lehman
Introduction by Robert Coles, Harvard University
Essay by Robbie Barnett, founder Tibet Information Network
The Tibetans is the first of its kind: a beautiful but disquieting portrait of both the splendor and ruin that mark contemporary Tibet. Award-winning photojournalist Steve Lehman travels beyond the mountain vistas and timeless temples to uncover a different Tibet–a Tibet of lumberyards and uranium mines, of brothels and discos, of demolished temples and burned-out police stations. Documented over a ten-year period, Lehman’s thoughtful and empathic photographs make real the grave beauty of this culture torn by political conflict. The Tibetans won the National Press Photographers Association Book of the Year Award, and was accompanied by a major photography exhibit at Newseum venues in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.
From his story-breaking coverage of the 1987 pro-independence demonstrations to Newsweek’s 1997 cover story, Lehman’s photographs helped create the wave of international attention now focused on Tibet. His unflinching images explore the critical issues there: cultural assimilation, human rights abuse, political demonstrations, environmental degradation, and religious persecution. Lehman’s penetrating photographs provide a real-life counterpart to such major entertainment events as Kundun, Seven Years in Tibet, and the Tibetan Freedom Concert.
In a moving introduction, renowned Harvard professor and Pulitzer Prize- winning author Dr. Robert Coles speaks of the importance of photojournalism and its role in effecting social change. An authoritative essay by Robbie Barnett provides much-needed historical and political perspective on recent events in Tibet and exposes many of the stereotypes that have clouded Western perceptions of the situation. Jampel Tsering, one of the foremost grassroots political leaders to escape from Tibet, offers a firsthand account of key events in the Tibetan pro-independence movement and provides a rare look at the human cost of their struggle and the hope that sustains it. Extensive quotes and oral histories culled from hundreds of interviews with Tibetans augment the evocative color images, along with Tibetan ephemera, maps, propaganda, and religious iconography, adding texture and insight to this finely crafted monograph.