Most helpful critical review
6 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Maybe the best you can get....
on September 28, 2011
I wanted to love this -- I mean, it has everything there to love it: history, primary documents, and analysis by leading scholars on the subjects.
Unfortunately there were a few things that I found really disturbing. For example, the author spells "tao" as "dao" or he spells "Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching" as "Laozi's Daodejing" - furthermore, although I've never read the analects or the Xunzi or the Mencius before, etc... These are just minor gripes -- disturbing, however, knowing that if he spells these things differently he might spell everything else differently as well....
Furthermore, I have read the Tao Te Ching before and thought that (a) the excerpts here were poorly selected and (b) the translations were mediocre. I would not be surprised if the same held true for the other selections in the rest of the book.
Part of me wishes to say: Get this book and introduce yourself to these great traditions of thought!! It covers such a wide expanse of history and goes into surprising detail.
But another part of me wants to say: get the best translations of the primary documents and study these traditions individually.
I think, actually, the latter option would be far more rewarding. There's nothing worse than reading a poor selection of a poor translation and then thinking to yourself: this is terrible -- when really it is a work that, had you read a better selection and a better translation, you would have fallen in love with.