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So said the 16th Karmapa when asked why he visited America in 1976. Of course, the Karmapa wasn't the first swan to go to the lake. In a book of immense scope, Rick Fields surveys the history of Buddhism in America from the quasi-legendary Fu-sang in the sixth century to Asian immigrant communities to the latest trends in American Buddhism. Writing as a storyteller as much as a historian, Fields takes us back to the earliest European contacts with Buddhism, most notably, Sir William Jones, who was just about to go to America on the recommendation of Ben Franklin, when at the last minute, fortunately, he chose India. His work would influence the American Transcendentalists and eventually the great Theosophist and first American convert to Buddhism, Henry Steel Olcott. A sympathetic writer, Fields is also meticulously inclusive. Besides the obvious transmitters, like D.T. Suzuki and Philip Kapleau, Fields traces the forgotten influences of Paul Carus, Ernest Fenollosa, and Dharmapala. One memorable story is of the ex-Navy submarine mechanic Heng Ju, who walked, three steps then a kowtow, over and over, all the way from San Francisco to Seattle for a berry pie. Fields has countless other stories that make How the Swans Came to the Lake a priceless contribution not only to Buddhism in America but to Buddhism itself. --Brian Bruya
This is an outstanding read. Very well written, researched and interesting throughout. I have waited for years for this to come out for Kindle and I am happy to own it... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Michael Dale Harrison
perhaps more detail than I was looking for - but one can always skim ahead to another chapter! Covers Buddhism from Buddha himself to the many ways that Buddhists arrived in the... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Roger Petrich
I am only about halfway through this book but can already say that it is an excellent read and very informative. Read morePublished on March 25, 2010 by Kieran Fox
I don't know of any other books that tries to put together a complete picture of how Buddhism came to America starting from far BEFORE the mid 20th century, as is the common... Read morePublished on August 18, 2006 by Eduardo Neecha
I was in my university bookstore when I saw a sign "Faculty Recommend" in front of this book. I decided to check it out. Read morePublished on July 5, 2006 by M. Tran
This is indeed an ecyclopedic view of Buddhism in America, but I feel the author is a bit too uncritical in drawing from some of his sources. Read morePublished on June 2, 2003 by J. Kowalski
Though this book is currently out of print, I recommend it to all Buddhists; it is the best history book I've read about the Western Sangha and fills in alot of gaps between the... Read morePublished on April 16, 1999