The Tibetans: A Struggle to Survive

By Steve Lehman
Introduction by Robert Coles
Essay by Robbie Barnett

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. Unflinching images explore the critical issues there: cultural assimilation, human rights abuse, political demonstrations, environmental degradation, and religious persecution. Lehman's penetrating photographs provides 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.

About the Authors:

Steve Lehman has covered Tibet for Newsweek, National Geographic, Time, and a host of other international magazines. He broke the story of Tibetan unrest in both 1987 and 1989 with images that appeared on the front page of nearly every major newspaper in the world, including The New York Times and The Washington Post. Lehman has won awards for his work in Rwanda and Burma and, in 1998, received First Place in the National Press Photographer's Association "Pictures of the Year" for his coverage in China. Lehman's photographs have been widely exhibited in such venues as the United States Capitol Building, Visa Pour L'Image in Perpignan, France, the Houston Center of Photography, and most recently the Freedom Forum's Newseum.

Robert Coles is the renowned James Agee Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard University and child psychiatrist. An essayist and poet, his books include the multivolume series, The Inner Lives of Children and Children in Crisis (for which Coles won the Pulitzer Prize). He is a founding member of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and the coeditor of the documentary magazine DoubleTake. Coles was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, by President Clinton in January 1998.

Robbie Barnett is a London-based journalist and researcher specializing in the contemporary situation in Tibet. In 1987, he founded the Tibet Information Network (TIN), an independent news and research organization. He has written for The Guardian, The Independent, The Observer, The South China Morning Post and various other publications. In addition to his numerous magazine and newspaper articles, Barnett is the author of a groundbreaking study of Tibet, Cutting off the Serpent's Head: Tightening Control in Tibet 1994-1995, copublished with Human Rights Watch in 1996. He is frequently a commentator on Tibetan affairs for the BBC World Service, Deutsche Welle, and Radio Netherlands.

Hardcover/9.8 x 9 in. upright
200 pp., 125 illustrations: 90 color, 35 B&W
ISBN: 0-944092-65-9
A Red Wheelbarrow Book/Published by Umbrage Editions, Inc.
Distributed by Twin Palms Publishers