Beyond Shangri-La

America and Tibet's Move into the Twenty-First Century

Beyond Shangri-La

American Encounters/Global Interactions

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Book Pages: 376 Illustrations: 22 illustrations, 1 map Published: November 2012

Asian Studies > South Asia, History > U.S. History, Politics > International Relations

Beyond Shangri-La chronicles relations between the Tibetans and the United States since 1908, when a Dalai Lama first met with U.S. representatives. What was initially a distant alliance became more intimate and entangled in the late 1950s, when the Tibetan people launched an armed resistance movement against the Chinese occupiers. The Tibetans fought to oust the Chinese and to maintain the presence of the current Dalai Lama and his direction of their country. In 1958, John Kenneth Knaus volunteered to serve in a major CIA program to support the Tibetans. For the next seven years, as an operations officer working from India, from Colorado, and from Washington, D.C., he cooperated with the Tibetan rebels as they utilized American assistance to contest Chinese domination and to attain international recognition as an independent entity.

Since the late 1950s, the rugged resolve of the Dalai Lama and his people and the growing respect for their efforts to free their homeland from Chinese occupation have made Tibet's political and cultural status a pressing issue in international affairs. So has the realization by nations, including the United States, that their geopolitical interests would best be served by the defeat of the Chinese and the achievement of Tibetan self-determination. Beyond Shangri-La provides unique insight into the efforts of the U.S. government and committed U.S. citizens to support a free Tibet.


Beyond Shangri-La by John Kenneth Knaus is a highly worthwhile read and an absorbing history of United States foreign policy toward Tibet.” — Rebecca Aguilar, Book Kvetch

“[T]his is a well-documented study of the complex America-China-Tibet triangle.” — Publishers Weekly

“Here, for the first time, is the full story of Washington’s official relationship with Tibet, from the first encounter between a U.S. diplomat and the then Dalai Lama in 1908 to the recent patter of congressional and White House pressure on Beijing to engage in dialogue.”  — Foreign Affairs

“Knaus…has produced an elegant and stimulating book, which is a must read for anyone interested in Tibet. Essential.” — Z. Zhu, Choice

“. . . this is the most complete history of US–Tibet relations currently available and will lend itself well to classroom adoption.” — A. Tom Grunfeld, The China Quarterly

“This detailed and meticulous examination of the complex relationship that the USA had with Tibet over the course of more than a century is written by an insider.”—, Asian Affairs — Wendy Palace, Asian Affairs

“Knaus’ fascinating insights into the intricacies of diplomacy and the mix of personalities and interests, both individual and national, which inform political policy and decision-making serve to demystify global politics and international relations. This book therefore will be of value to students of these fields, as well as to ibet watchers and scholars.” — Amy Mountcastle, The China Journal

"This book not only traces the history of American interest in Tibet but it is also a book that seeks to place Tibet as possessing a special significance to America and the American public." — Tsering Shakaya, Pacific Affairs

“Given the dearth of works on the relationship between the United States and Tibet, a monograph with the scope of John Kenneth Knaus’ Beyond Shangri-La — which begins at first contact and runs through to the present ? is a welcome addition.” — Jie Gao, Canadian Journal of History

"John Kenneth Knaus provides a diplomat’s history of Tibet.... [T]his book is an invaluable reading of U.S.-Tibetan relations from the point of view of someone who was himself a participant in this history."  — Carole McGranahan, American Historical Review

"Beyond Shangri-La is a valuable and highly informative contribution to understanding both Tibet and the history of American foreign policy in Asia. Benefiting from the author's personal experience with America's Tibet policy, first as a CIA officer and later as an institutional historian, the book gives often dramatic insights into the surprisingly crucial role of individual officials in government shifts of policy and direction. It comes at a time when America's relations with China are at a point of unprecedented importance for world affairs and when understanding the deep history of the difficult issues within that relationship—Tibet chief among them—is important to successfully navigating them." — Robert Barnett, author of Lhasa: Streets with Memories

"I am honored to herald Ken Knaus's masterful account of America's role in Tibet's agonizing and inspiring progress into a future that is still uncertain. . . . A hearty welcome to this magnum opus, and may its skillful narrative and honest factual presentation create a forceful if implicit wake-up call that comes to fruition as soon as possible." — Robert A. F. Tenzin Thurman, from the foreword


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

John Kenneth Knaus has continued to support Tibet throughout his career. He is currently a Research Associate working on Tibetan affairs at the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University. He is the author of Orphans of the Cold War: America and the Tibetan Struggle for Survival.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations vii

Foreword / Robert A. F. Tenzin Thurman ix

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xv

1. Washington Discovers the Hidden Land 1

2. The Dalai Lama's Long Journey Home 10

3. Beyond the Horizon 21

4. The United States Sits Out 31

5. Washington Discovers Tibet 39

6. A Small Part of the Bigger Picture 51

7. The United States Enters the Scene 63

8. Washington and Lhasa Regroup 78

9. On the Sidelines 95

10. The Stalemate Breaks 109

11. Promises Kept 121

12. Tibet on the International Scene 136

13. The United States Remains Involved 148

14. New Commitments, New Problems, New Solutions 161

15. A New Ballgame 166

16. The United States and India as Allies 179

17. The United States Disengages 192

18. Rescue from Limbo 214

19. America Rediscovers Tibet 229

20. Collateral Diplomacy 247

21. A New High in White House Support 259

22. People-to-People Diplomacy 272

23. An Uncertain Future 293

Notes 307

Bibliography 337

Figure Credits 343

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5234-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5219-8
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