From Publishers Weekly
With the variety of resources on Buddhism so effortlessly available to us today, it's easy to forget that not so long ago, Buddhism was simply unknown in the West and had also been all but forgotten in India itself. Allen (Tales from the Dark Continent) weaves an engrossing tale of the process by which some of Britain's brightest military men, civil servants and employees of the powerful East India Company began in the late 18th century to uncover both the existence of Buddhism and its enormous impact on ancient Indian history. He focuses on the careers of several remarkable Orientalists, including Oriental Jones, a judge in Bengal who pioneered the influential Asiatic Society to foster archeological and linguistic study of India's remote past, and James Prinsep, an employee of the East India Company who eventually deciphered an important form of Sanskrit. In the space of a century, these and other men achieved remarkable success, including completing a chronology of ancient Indian monarchs, excavating numerous topes or stupas, identifying important Buddhist sites and introducing Buddhism to the West. With the aid of dozens of b&w photographs and illustrations, Allen helps the reader to imagine the excitement of discovery, like the early, tantalizing finding of a 1,000-year-old stone plaque with an inscription commemorating Bood-ha, a mysterious, heretofore forgotten deity. Allen has written a deeply appealing book that is certain to engage historians and students of Buddhism alike.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"This account of the discovery of Buddhism's origins in India is a fabulous detective story."