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Buddhism: A History (Religions of the World) Paperback – December 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Series: Religions of the World
  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Jain Pub Co (December 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875730027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875730028
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #815,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

N. Ross Reat seems to have accomplished the impossible: a one-volume survey of Buddhism that is accurate, inclusive and readable. In an excellent narrative that links facts and ideas over three millennia, Buddhism: a History begins with four chapters on the background, inception and development of early Buddhism, then moves on through nine individual chapters on Buddhism in each of its major geographic locales, from Sri Lanka to Japan and even the West. A valuable work for student and casual reader alike.

From Library Journal

Reat covers the history of Buddhism in a marvelously interesting and informative way that will appeal to the general reader. In 13 chapters, he discusses the Buddha in history and legend; the death of the Buddha and the split that resulted in the Theravada and Mahayana schools of Buddhism; the teachings of the Buddha; and the development of Buddhism around the world, primarily in the United States. He also demonstrates the impact of the political history of different countries on the development of Buddhism and interweaves explanations of the importance of several Buddhist canonical texts with his descriptions of the development of the Theravada and Mahayana schools of Buddhism in various countries. Reat presents this history in a way that draws the reader into the account and provides answers to the questions a beginning reader would have. The result is more detailed than most introductions to the subject. Highly recommended for libraries needing a current introduction to the subject.
David Bourquin, California State Univ., San Bernardino
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Geo on June 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
This history of Buddhism traces the religion from its origins to the present day. The first few chapters of the book deal extensively with describing the early history of the religion in India and the philosophies and beliefs of Buddhism itself as well as the two primary divisions of Buddhism, Mahayana and Theraveda Buddhism. The rest of the book discusses at length the histories of Buddhist religion within individual countries and regions, with an emphasis on the various sects that originated within each country as well as their distinguishing characteristics. The end result provides the readers with a distinct view of how Buddhism has spread and evolved throughout Asia. The book ends with a discussion of Buddhism's spread outside of Asia that is disappointingly short.

The book is quite thorough in its discussion of Buddhism, and it also includes general historical information on some regions of East Asia (such as Korea, Sri Lanka, Indochina, and Tibet) that are not discussed in most conventional Western world histories. In this light, the book is very good reading for people who want to thoroughly understand the overall history of East Asia rather than only the histories of the predominant countries in the region.

Unfortunately, this book is overloaded with details on Buddhism. Too much information on what appear to be historically inconsequential Buddhist sects and minor Buddhist historical figures is presented in the book. In some sections, the history becomes the relentless mentioning of facts rather than the clear statement of significant events and their historical consequences. The various Asian names and terminology, which are difficult for anyone from any culture to keep track of, add to this problem.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
My kind of book--Scholarly, humane, beautifully written, all-encompassing, precise, concise. Starting from the life of the Buddha, and describing the development of Buddhist thought as it spread from country to country, and describing Buddhism's part in Asian history, I was amazed by its completeness and intelligence.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By SkyMind on October 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
The development of the various schools and sects is treated in great detail. The philosophical bases of the different versions of Buddhism are compared and contrasted. It's also a good introduction to Asian history in general. Each country or region has its own chapter. I thought the emphasis given to the politicization of Buddhism and its importance in the emergence of the national identity of the various Asian peoples was especially good. I also learned how Buddhism greatly enriched Taoism, Confucianism, and Hinduism.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dan Bergevin VINE VOICE on October 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book after becoming frustrated with the glut of Buddhism books on the market that purport to explain its history but do nothing more than offer anecdotes and examples of Buddhist art and architecture. Buddhism: A History is a book on exactly that - the History of Buddhism. It covers a massive amount of ground in a fairly compact volume. The reader will learn about how Buddhism migrated to and affected the cultures of various countries, including China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and others. The content is almost 20 years old but, from a historical perspective, you'll gain far more from this book than from any other, and filling in the 20 year gap shouldn't be terribly difficult with modern literature.

I give this book my highest recommendation and would consider it best in class for its topic. Readers will not only learn about Buddhist history but will also by default learn a lot about Asian history and culture. It's a fantastic resource all around.
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