Across Many Mountains

A Tibetan Family's Epic Journey from Oppression to Freedom

Yangzom Brauen

Macmillan Audio

A powerful, emotional memoir and an extraordinary portrait of three generations of Tibetan women whose lives are forever changed when Chairman Mao’s Red Army crushes Tibetan independence, sending a young mother and her six-year-old daughter on a treacherous journey across the snowy Himalayas toward freedom

Kunsang thought she would never leave Tibet. One of the country's youngest Buddhist nuns, she grew up in a remote mountain village where, as a teenager, she entered the local nunnery. Though simple, Kunsang's life gave her all she needed: a oneness with nature and a sense of the spiritual in all things. She married a monk, had two children, and lived in peace and prayer. But not for long. There was a saying in Tibet: "When the iron bird flies and horses run on wheels, the Tibetan people will be scattered like ants across the face of the earth." The Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950 changed everything. When soldiers arrived at her mountain monastery, destroying everything in their path, Kunsang and her family fled across the Himalayas only to spend years in Indian refugee camps. She lost both her husband and her youngest child on that journey, but the future held an extraordinary turn of events that would forever change her life--the arrival in the refugee camps of a cultured young Swiss man long fascinated with Tibet. Martin Brauen will fall instantly in love with Kunsang's young daughter, Sonam, eventually winning her heart and hand, and taking mother and daughter with him to Switzerland, where Yangzom will be born.

Many stories lie hidden until the right person arrives to tell them. In rescuing the story of her now 90-year-old inspirational grandmother and her mother, Yangzom Brauen has given us a book full of love, courage, and triumph,as well as allowing us a rare and vivid glimpse of life in rural Tibet before the arrival of the Chinese. Most importantly, though, ACROSS MANY MOUNTAINS is a testament to three strong, determined women who are linked by an unbreakable family bond.  


Read an Excerpt



For fear of Chinese soldiers, they dared walk only through the freezing nights, with no light to guide them but the stars. The mountains were black towers before the dark sky. The group, numbering a dozen or so, had set out shortly before the Tibetan New Year festival, which, like the beginning of the Chinese calendar, usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. New Year was deemed the best time to escape. The high passes were covered in snow, and icy winds whistled across them, but the snow was frozen hard at night and was sometimes




  • ACROSS MANY MOUNTAINS: Childhood Memories

    In this author interview video, Yangzom Brauen, author of the book Across Many Mountains, talks about her childhood in Tibet.

  • ACROSS MANY MOUNTAINS: Family Activism

    In this author interview video, Yangzom Brauen, author of the book Across Many Mountains, talks about her work as a Tibetan activist and her family ties to H.H. the Dalai Lama.


    In this author interview video, Yangzom Brauen, author of Across Many Mountains, explains how her Swiss father met her Tibetan mother.


    In this author interview, Brauen talks about her grandmother's story and how she came to write the book.



Praise for Across Many Mountains

“A moving reminder that the consequences of the Chinese invasion of Tibet continue down to this day.  A lovely memoir of three generations of Tibetan women.”~ Oliver Stone

The journey of the refugee--Cuban, Vietnamese, Libyan, Darfurian, and in the old days of the Cold War, East German and Hungarian--has special resonance for Americans because this country has provided sanctuary for refugees as far back as its founding. The drama is that of life and death and survival in exile. This stunning memoir is vivid and compelling, a clear-eyed rendering of the experience. A must read."--Diane Wolff, author of Tibet Unconquered: An Epic Struggle for Freedom

"Yanzom Brauen recounts a gripping true story of her family and has kept alive the dreams of her grandmother."--Kehdroob Thondup, co-author of Dalai Lama, My Son

“A multi-generational saga stitched together from memories passed down from her grandmother, Yangzom Brauen's Across Many Mountains has the tragic, epic quality of Kenji Mizoguchi's cinematic masterpiece, The Life of Oharu. With unadorned prose that is both searing and laced with verisimilitude, Brauen has written a book centered on the extraordinary journey of her grandmother that is one of both human suffering and perseverance in the face of it. Across Many Mountains is nothing short of a celebration of the human spirit.”--Rex Pickett, author of Vertical and Sideways

“The story of Kunsang and Sonam and Yangzom touches my heart because it brings back memories of life in Old Tibet.  It tells the world exactly what it means to be a Tibetan refugee who loves her homeland deeply but at the same time is capable of adapting to life in the Western World.  The courage and integrity and endurance of Kunsang and Sonam are astounding. I thank Yangzom for telling their story. I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to know about the real situation in Tibet.”--Arjia Rinpoche, Director, Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center and author of Surviving the Dragon

"The experience of this family would actually be enough for more than three lives." --Abendzeitung

"A perfect book with which to impress people on the subway--or just a perfect book. Read it!" --Spiegel (bestseller list)




In the Press

ACROSS MANY MOUNTAINS by Yangzom Brauen, Katy DerbyshireKirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of ACROSS MANY MOUNTAINS A Tibetan Family's Epic Journey from Oppression to Freedom. The experiences of three generations of remarkable Tibetan women over the course of a century.
- Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Yangzom Brauen

  • Born in 1980 to a Swiss father and Tibetan mother,YANGZOM BRAUEN is an actress, model, and political activist. She lives in both Los Angeles and Berlin and has appeared in a number of German and American films. She is also very active in the Free Tibet movement, making regular radio broadcasts about Tibet and organizing public demonstrations against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Visit her Web site at www.yangzombrauen.com.
  • Yangzom Brauen Adam Sheridan-Taylor
    Yangzom Brauen


Available Formats and Book Details

Across Many Mountains

A Tibetan Family's Epic Journey from Oppression to Freedom

Yangzom Brauen



Macmillan Audio