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A wonderful idea with so-so execution, this spiritual travelogue ambitiously circles the globe to explore the Asian roots and worldwide branches of Buddhism. Journalist Garfinkel got an assignment to write a feature for National Geographic magazine about the spread of Buddhism; the book includes both the material he gathered in nine countries and his memoirish commentary on his experiences. The book is at its best when Garfinkel holds memoir to a minimum and just reports on his subjects, whether people or countries. The resurgence of Buddhism in economically booming China is particularly fascinating. By contrast, increased coverage of Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh and a little less of Garfinkel's girlfriend at Nhat Hanh's Plum Village in France would have been more to the point. Some readers, especially nostalgic baby boomers, will appreciate the author's light tone, while others will find his frequent jokiness shallow and his cultural allusions occasionally mysterious ("the Buddhist version of 'I'm from Missouri' "). Although Garfinkel presents useful material, some conclusions are unconvincing leaps. "I was having trouble connecting the dots in Sri Lanka" doesn't speak precisely enough about that country's contradictions. While informative, this book isn't fresh or rigorous enough. (June 13)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Garfinkel undertook a 20-week round-the-world trip to write an in-depth article for National Geographic about the worldwide Buddhist movement. Following in the footsteps of the Buddha, he hoped to gain, if not nirvana, at least insight and "merit" to redeem in this lifetime. He begins the journey in Poland, on an Auschwitz retreat through Zen Peacemakers, looking for Buddha's truth of suffering. It is a heartrending beginning that at the end of the journey makes a great deal of sense. Next on his agenda is India, birthplace of Buddha, and from this point on the itinerary is more logical. Each step is another lesson in history, teasing out what is known from what has been merely attributed to the Buddha. He travels to Thailand, Hong Kong, and China, and some discoveries are disheartening. In Sri Lanka, for instance, Garfinkel is appalled to find that the civil war is closer to a religious war. Despite occasional confusion in the discussion of various Buddhist sects, Garfinkel presents a dynamic account of twentieth-century Buddhism. Pamela Crossland
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I loved loved loved this book. I have purchased a few copies and shared them with people I love who are going through tough times. A definite must-read!Published 10 months ago by K. McCoy
Provides a clear picture of the spread of Buddhism from Asia to America and back. It also explores the differences between types of Buddhism that are not made clear in many other... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Helen E. Skwarek
The book was alright for me. The author is a person who is giving his account in his own way.Published 17 months ago by Loomai
Every page in this book had a little surprise hidden in it. Buddha or Bust is fresh as Perry Garfinkel communicates in a chatty sort of manner - feels like he is giving the... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Daleen halton
I just finished Buddha or Bust and found it a a very good read primarily for 2 reasons. One is at least for me it synthesized or brought together information I had from reading... Read morePublished on April 15, 2013 by Stephen C. Skinner
I really liked it, but I gotta warn you: it's a travelogue.
The author travels around the world, studying how Buddhism has changed throughout the ages and how it's... Read more
The way of writing is clear, very easy to read. But this book gives the impression the author's study is only there to say : "hey, there are more and more Buddhists on earth, and I... Read morePublished on November 19, 2010 by Bibic
Not bad, not too exciting either. It's a nice read that has a lot of information on the history of Buddhism. Read morePublished on October 11, 2010 by BraMaster
Travelling in Buddha's footsteps, Garfinkel pursues "engaged" followers who apply dharma to heal the world. Read morePublished on September 10, 2009 by John L Murphy