Like the authors of other biographies of the current Dalai Lama, Norman does not read or speak Tibetan. However, he has the advantage of being able to use histories published over the past two decades that draw on Tibetan and Chinese sources...Norman puts these to good use, as well as recently published books about the Dalai Lama’s two tutors, making this biography the most detailed and accurate to date ... The book contains a number of errors, most of the minor variety, especially concerning the admittedly arcane world of Tibetan Buddhism ... Throughout, however, the biography is judicious on topics that often inspire hyperbole and mystification ... Norman’s description of a crisis over which deity to propitiate, a crisis that began with the thirteenth and continues to the present day, is impressive in its clarity ... In keeping with a religion so obsessed with prophecy, the book, written in an engaging prose, ends with an insightful prediction of the legacy of the fourteenth Dalai Lama, and a cleareyed assessment of the challenges that the fifteenth will face.
... a biography written with generous access to its subject ... Mr. Norman knows the Dalai Lama better than most, having helped him to write his autobiography. His new book is rich, sometimes heaving, with detail; his supple prose, often beautiful, is as adept at explaining Tibet’s theology as it is at describing its spiritual world ... Mr. Norman’s book, while respectful, is not adoring: He doesn’t flinch from offering examples of his subject’s behavior that are awkward.
... a compelling portrait of the religious leader whose life has been a continuous struggle to maintain spiritual goals while dealing with temporal matters ... The Dalai Lama himself insists that much of his life is dedicated to spiritual concerns. What remains, he has committed to causes such as freeing his homeland. This balance between spiritual and worldly goals is perhaps the most fascinating aspect of his life and this definitive book, which is sure to attract anyone seeking more insight into this enduring leader.