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Zen at War (2nd Edition) Paperback – June 22, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 27 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

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Praise for the first edition: Zen at War is a wake-up call for all Buddhists. Victoria has shown in a passionate and well documented way that Buddhism is not immune to the kind of distortions that have been used throughout human history by virtually all of the world's religions to justify so-called holy war.... -- John Daido Loori, Roshi, Abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery; author of The Heart of Being: Moral and Ethical Teachings of Zen Buddhism

Praise for the first edition: In this carefully documented study, Brian Victoria discloses the incredible intellectual dishonesty of Japanese Buddhists who perverted their religion into a jingoistic doctrine of support for the emperor and imperial expansion during the period 1868-1945. Good job! We must face this dark side of our heritage squarely.... -- Robert Aitken, retired Roshi, Honolulu Diamond Sangha

Zen at War is an incendiary book and an essential cautionary tale for anyone wanting to apply Buddhist teachings. Brian Victoria is a genuinely radical historian who asks followers of Zen–and by extension all Buddhists–to look beyond the pristine, other-worldly image the tradition has presented and understand the deep compromises that came from its relationship with power. Much more than an exposé, Zen at War challenges Buddhists to think through the ethical consequences of venerated doctrines and examine them in light of the Buddha's original teaching. Despite the efforts of some Zen apologists to minimize the significance of Brian Victoria's findings, the first edition lit a fire under Zen and the new edition adds fuel by extending the book's critique back into Buddhist history. It is an important contribution to western Buddhism. -- Vishvapani, editor of Dharma Life magazine

An important and well-written work . . . This new edition significantly expands the text . . . Especially important is Victoria's well-documented contention that Buddhist involvement with buttressing political establishments is not new but can be traced to the time of King Ashoka in ancient India. . . Finally the author calls all Buddhists to thoughtful consideration and repudiation of "Nation-Protecting Buddhism" as a betrayal of the essential teachings . . . Recommended., CHOICE

Victoria's extensive research- along with translations of lengthy quotations- substantially adds to our knowledge of the relationship between Buddhism and Japanese nationalism and imperialism....the content is often very interesting..., Journal of Asian Studies

Praise for the first edition:Zen at War is a stunning contribution to our understanding of Japanese militarism and the broader issue of war responsibility as it continues to be addressed (and ignored) in contemporary Japan. Victoria's great sensitivity to the perversion and betrayal of Buddhism's teachings about compassion and nonviolence makes his indictment of the role played by Imperial War Buddhists in promoting ultranationalism and aggression all the more striking―and all the more saddening. -- John Dower, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; author of War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War

About the Author

Brian D. Victoria is a Soto Zen priest and director of the Buddhist Studies Program in Japan at Antioch College. He has published widely in both Japanese and English, including Zen Master Dogen, which he co-authored, and Zen War Stories.

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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
27 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on May 5, 2018
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Top international reviews

Vigilantius
4.0 out of 5 stars Important acknowledgement of the fallibility of the Zen experience - pertinent for all practitioners
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 13, 2016
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bettina braun
5.0 out of 5 stars Okay
Reviewed in Germany on June 7, 2019
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Michael Chan
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, and good delivery.
Reviewed in Canada on April 8, 2020
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john
5.0 out of 5 stars must read!
Reviewed in France on April 26, 2020
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Jacky P.
4.0 out of 5 stars Un peu déçu
Reviewed in France on February 15, 2015
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忠右エ門
5.0 out of 5 stars 目が覚めた
Reviewed in Japan on January 26, 2017
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Adrian Chan-Wyles Ph.D
3.0 out of 5 stars Zen at War.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 11, 2010
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