Based on close readings of a wide range of primary sources in Tibetan, Italian, and Latin, this book follows the 1715–21 journey of Jesuit missionary Ippolito Desideri across the great Western deserts of Tibet; his entry into the court of the Mongol chieftain Lhazang Khan; and his flight across Eastern Tibet in wartime. Desideri relates the dramatic encounter between his Jesuit philosophy and the scholasticism of the Geluk monks; the personal conflict between his own Roman Catholic beliefs and his appreciation of Tibet religion and culture; and the travails of a variety of colorful characters whose political intrigues led to the invasion of Zunghar Mongols of 1717 and the establishment of the Chinese protectorate in 1720.
"[Trent] Pomplun's study is well researched and elegantly written, a sophisticated sympathetic, even exciting account of Ippolito Desideri's five-year mission to Tibet.... Generous, thought provoking, and exceptionally well researched."—Theological Studies