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The Buddha: A Short Biography (Oneworld Short Guides) Paperback – October 31, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-1851682560 ISBN-10: 1851682562
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This highly readable account of the Buddha's life begins with Siddhartha Gautama's last rebirth and guides the reader through the Buddha's seemingly infinite past lives; human ancestry, birth, and youth; spiritual quest and awakening; teachings and community; daily routines and miracles; and final "complete extinction." While clearly delineating what little is known of the historical Gautama, Strong (religion, Bates Coll.; The Experience of Buddhism) focuses on the Buddha "of story," comparing and contrasting variations in the many tales about the Buddha found in canonical and postcanonical texts. His short biography is of greatest interest to readers seeking to understand Buddhist perspectives on this seminal life and is an excellent complement to Karen Armstrong's more interpretive, widely held Buddha (LJ 1/01), which offers more comparisons to the contemporary environment and religious movements. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. James R. Kuhlman, Univ. of North Carolina at Asheville Lib.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Most scholars believe that the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, was a historical person, but scholarly consensus about the historical Buddha ends there. Unlike Karen Armstrong's Buddha: A Biography [BKL Ja 1 & 15 01], Strong's life doesn't begin with the Buddha's birth and end with his death. Instead, Strong's begins eons before the Buddha's incarnation as Gautama, with the Jataka tales, a huge body of world literature that tells of the Buddha's past lives as persons, animals, and sometimes gods. Strong argues that the past lives tell us as much about the Buddha as do the stories of his final incarnation. He examines the stories of the Buddha's primary life, too, of course, and continues beyond it to the present day, considering the significance of his relics--the parts of his body enshrined throughout the world--and of the literary body of sutras that resulted from his teachings. Strong's fascinating approach to religious biography furnishes readers curious about the Buddha with a deep and broad introduction to his many lives. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: Oneworld Short Guides
  • Paperback: 203 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld (October 31, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851682562
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851682560
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,094,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Sarakani on November 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
One of the problems of this book is it is too short. It can be finished in two hours flat or around that and contained an astonishing wealth of material including much I did not know. There are such tantalising leads set up about the man, and a voluminous set of follow up sources, but the book itself is turgid.
One can be overwhelmed by the amazing range of material and the author does not choose between the plausible and the implausible. Rather he generates a riotous though coherent account combining many sources, treating all the myth with the same deference as the facts (makes a refreshing change). Importantly, he edits and chooses his material well, sectioning the book and ignoring swathes of the Buddha's life from his middle period (when the order of events is obscure).
This is not a biography but a gripping narrative. A sort of splash in the face about an individual, sufficiently admired to have generated so many stories, from the Bodhisatva stages (where the author starts and dwells on- again, very novel)to the nuances of what actually happened as he lay between the Sal trees at Kusinara. One feels the impact of an immense being, and is left fairly breathless and wishing more.
Perhaps a longer book with more historical background could have helped. Extraordinary detail and scholarship from a contributor to "King Asoka and Buddhism".
A very up to date account of current scholarship and interest.
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