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The Buddha

by John S. Strong

Buy the book: John S. Strong. The Buddha

Release Date: December, 2001

Edition: Paperback

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Buy the book: John S. Strong. The Buddha


Extensive to extremes but not exhausting

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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