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Seven Years in Tibet

Narrated by: Mark Meadows
Length: 11 hrs and 38 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (273 ratings)

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Summary

A landmark in travel writing, this is the incredible true story of Heinrich Harrer’s escape across the Himalayas to Tibet, set against the backdrop of the Second World War. Heinrich Harrer, already one of the greatest mountaineers of his time, was climbing in the Himalayas when war broke out in Europe. He was imprisoned by the British in India but succeeded in escaping and fled to Tibet. Settling in Lhasa, the Forbidden City, where he became a friend and tutor to the Dalai Lama, Heinrich Harrer spent seven years gaining a more profound understanding of Tibet and the Tibetans than any Westerner before him.

Seven Years in Tibet was translated into 53 languages, became a best seller in the United States in 1954, and sold three million copies.

©1982 Heinrich Harrer (P)2012 Audible Ltd

Critic reviews

"It deserves its place among the few great travel stories of our times." ( The Times)
"Few adventurers in this century have had the combined luck and hardihood to return with such news as this. Fewer still have rendered it so powerfully unadorned." ( Times Literary Supplement)
"Some books, like some mountains, are lonely and unrivalled peaks. This is one of them." ( Economist)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic a life we never see.....

We are so convinced that Western life (fast paced focused upon the self and high achievement etc.) is the right way to live that we rarely get the opportunity to stop and think and consider our priorities in life.

You would be very fortunate in your life if the sacred person of another culture was once your student/companion on a daily basis - you would be very fortunate.

The intimate life of a Westerner in Tibet is a rare insight into another world another culture that is far removed from our materialistic yearnings. Come step inside and feel the desire to live a different life and pass on your worldly knowledge to another culture. A mesmerising view of another country listen and enjoy.

8 people found this helpful

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Wonderful

Truly inspiring. Educational. Historical & Eye-Opening. A fantastic book and tremendously well read. I highly recommend it.

6 people found this helpful

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Interesting but a bit dry

A biography of a very interesting life, but written by a self-confessed non-writer, so rather dry and stilted in parts. Reads a bit like a what-I-did-on-my-holidays essay: and then this happened, and then that happened, and then... Also, rather dated in some aspects. Overall, a pleasant listen and it was great to learn more about the history of Tibet and the Dalai Lama from a first-hand account.

5 people found this helpful

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Fantastic read

Heinrich's adventures are amazing, the troubles he went through but also the fantastic joys too. Thoroughly enjoyed hearing this 20 years after my initial read. Truly inspirational.

2 people found this helpful

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Great book

very good book and pretty well narrated despite some long pauses. I sort of felt that the narrator should have a German (Austrian) accent for this book though.

2 people found this helpful

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A Good Story

This story is great for fans of Travel and Adventure. The story of how Heinrich makes his way to Tibet had me gripped throughout, but the story did lose a bit of excitement once Heinrich does finally reach Lhasa. Nice insight into the relationship between Heinrich and the Dahlia Lhama.

2 people found this helpful

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Exploration and detail

Just loved it. A fascinating and sad story, full of beautiful descriptions and excellent details.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating story

Well worth a listen but the narrator sounded like an inhibited schoolboy reading in class and I found this distracting.

1 person found this helpful

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Love this story. What a great human.

Always loved the film. The book was so much more interesting. What a life Harrer lived.

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A real must read.

An amazing adventure story, made by an amazing adventurer. It’s not often such a meeting of minds ever happens but it is very important that they do and continue to do so.

A story that shines a light on just how important freedom is and always will be.

Fantastic!

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  • Alexander
  • 03-09-12

Excellent

Where does Seven Years in Tibet rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It is in my top ten of true stories.

Any additional comments?

This is better than the movie counterpart. It really goes deeper, and the story is one that leaves you feeling. There is adventure, human development, cultural understanding, and beauty in this story.

42 people found this helpful

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  • Carla M. Palmer
  • 03-03-15

Great book

Loved the narrator, I had never seen the movie so now am anxious to see it. Such an incredible experience to go through and it gives you an appreciation for the Tibetan people.

29 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Glenn
  • 02-01-15

What a story!

This book had a really good narrator and kept your attention all the way through definitely recommend. A really good read.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Jean
  • 29-01-16

An Adventure Classic

Heinrich Harrer was an Austrian mountain climber. In 1939 he is in India when World War II breaks out. He is taken to a detention camp in Bombay. He escapes and heads toward Tibet. At that time Tibet did not allow outsiders into their country. He walks, hides and runs until he crosses the Tibet boarder. Then he has to use all his skills to trick and deceive his way past daunting Tibetan officials. He walks seventy days over rugged mountainous terrain before he reaches Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

He makes friends and lives with a family; he becomes fluent in Tibetan. He comes to the attention of the government who consults him on various matters where he contributes tremendously, because of his western school training. He becomes a tutor to the Dalai Lama.

I enjoyed his marvelous descriptions of his first sights of Tibet. He describes Tibetan life including their colorful ceremonies. Toward the end he also tells of the 1950 military takeover of Tibet by China and the Dali Lama and his government fleeing to India. In the afterword, the author tells of the Dalai Lama coming to his 90th birthday party in Germany. I enjoyed the afterword as it brought events up to the current date. I had no idea how badly Tibet has suffered under Chinese rule.

This book was first published in 1952 and apparently has sold millions worldwide. I seem to be late on the scene having just discovered this interesting book. Mark Meadows does a good job narrating the book. I highly recommend this book, it is a fascinating read.

45 people found this helpful

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  • Coffee Lover
  • 23-07-15

Fascinating!

I have actually read this book in hard copy a few times but loved this audible version of the book. This true historical account is all the more interesting because of the fact that Tibet was a closed country and in fact, is still somewhat difficult for the casual tourist to visit. There is nothing else that I'm aware of from this particular era that goes into such wonderful detail about the customs and everyday life of the Tibetans. I especially loved his relationship with his Holiness the Dalai Lama when he was a child. History has never been so entertaining.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Mimi Routh
  • 24-06-15

"Free Tibet!" is No Joke -- Most Excellent Read!

This is not Great Literature; it gets all the stars because it is one man's unique story of what happened when he was away from his native Austria climbing mountains in the Himalayas when World War II broke out. As a young man, in great physical condition, educated and quick-thinking, he took charge of circumstances, broke out of POW camp and got himself to Lhasa, Tibet. The story is well told and beautifully narrated. Mark Meadows sounds like a handsome Brit wearing a tuxedo. As Harrer's English would have been similarly accented, this makes perfect sense. The story has an old-timey feel to it. In fact, as it is a translation from German, I noticed some archaic usages which only remind the listener that this whole story is wonderful history. Apparently, Harrer presented himself extremely well. He also applied his wits and strength to the task at hand. He and his friend arrived in Lhasa ragged, dirty and barefoot with bleeding, blistered and frost-bitten feet after enduring great hardship on extremely high altitude mountain passes. They managed to get help and get work, and Harrer became tutor to the teen-aged Dalai Lama! Yes, the same delightful holy man still active in the world today. At fourteen, he was almost a prisoner in his own kingdom, a keen mind curious about the world, science, the future, and held back by ancient tradition, extremely conservative religious beliefs. Harrer brought order to the young man's studies and did his best to explain. When the Dalai Lama asked for what we would call a media room, Harrer constructed a fine little theater. The two men remained lifelong friends.

Many years ago I had read all the books by an author called Tuesday Lobsang Rampa, describing monastic life in Lhasa. Later, I was told that he was a phoney, a Brit who "did his homework." I felt rather cheated and wondered how much of all that had been true. It had been my only introduction to Tibet. On second investigation, I think this author may have been a "walk-in." And now I have moved home from sea level to 3,500 feet and then to over 6,000 feet. Harrer mentions elevation quite often in his book, the thin air, physical adaptation. Visitors to high-altitude locations like South Lake Tahoe will notice they have to rest more often than they planned. Indeed, when you move here, it's like running in sand for a good six months until you adapt. At any rate, the Lobsang-Rampa lore and not-so-high-altitude experience all comes together in Heinrich Harrer's story, describing the pageantry, the humor, love of color, gorgeous clear air. If he sometimes seems to be bragging, well, it really happened and it had to be told! I deplore the Chinese takeover and trashing of Tibet. This is an entertaining and most worthwhile book!

24 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Brandon
  • 07-05-15

Very significant to history

Great book, worth the read. It can be a bit tedious at times, but you won't regret keeping on it. A rare peek into a lost civilization and culture.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Omar Naseem Meer
  • 04-07-16

Great book! Can't recommend it highly enough!

I love the movie so I thought I would give the book a shot. Still no complaints about the movie, but the book fleshes out the time line so well.

5 people found this helpful

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  • HIYBRID
  • 24-06-15

The movie did not do justice to this story

Sure I like the movie but this listen was more complex and involved and genuine than what they could do on film. I understand the mountaineering descriptions and hardships they had to endure to get to Lhasa. Their pluck in the face of rejection and luck pulled them through. I also found that Harrer is a much more compassionate character than I had previously known. Take your time. You'll enjoy this.... OK one flaw... I wanted a map upon which to follow the journey. My atlas does not list Tibet as a country.... Sadly it's tossed in as part of China...

5 people found this helpful

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  • Ryan
  • 04-10-17

Adventure Politics Religion

This is a great story. I learned a lot from this epic adventure tail. Some of the storiy lines are just incredible. I particularly enjoyed the process to find the current Dalai Lama.

3 people found this helpful