I bought this book in preparation for a trip to India, in which I will visit many of the sites that are discussed in this book. This book turned out to be a treasure, and I could hardly put it down. Starting in the 18th century, Allen takes you through the rediscovery of lost, ancient Buddhist sites, the way in which the early Indian portion of Buddhist history was reconstructed, and - perhaps most importantly - the heroic efforts of the remarkable people who accomplished all of this. Weaving the story together is Allen's prose, which is written like a detective story. He takes you through the process of the discoveries in a way that is captivating and engaging. This book is a real page-turner, which is saying something about a book that is ostensibly about archeology!
If you're one of those people who finds stumbling onto an ancient treasure exciting, then this modern treasure by Charles Allen is a book that won't disappoint. It's a phenomenal book for people who are serious about learning something. A rarity among writer's today, Allen packs the book with facts not only words and in doing so creates a wealth of knowledge for the student of things ancient. The book does get a bit crusty at points and dry to read, much like an ancient archaeological dig itself, but the dust makes the finds that much more captivating. If you thought you knew something about Buddhism, Britain and/or India this book will humbly remind you that knowledge has her vast stretches of uncharted territory. Of the books that have been written on Buddhism, this is one that will last, and outlast most. Happy hunting. -JL