Children's LiteratureThis title is part of the publisher's "Religions and Religious Movements" series. (Other titles include Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Islam, and Judaism). The series aims to provide high school students with an historical context for each of the world's religions. By using articles and essays from a variety of sources, the books seek to offer a range of theological and historical contexts, as well as the challenges facing the religion in question in the contemporary world. It is an ambitious project. This title begins with essays by English and American scholarly "others" and attempts to define this elusive phenomenon loosely termed Hinduism. The writings of Stanley Wolpert, Wendy Doniger, and David Knipe are represented here. Romila Thapar is herea name guaranteed to raise the ire of certain Hindu groups, yet certainly she belongs in any collection purporting to represent a range of voices about the subject. Other chapters include material about Mahatma Gandhi, a selection from a popular Hindu web site, excerpts from a translation of the Bhagavad Gita, and 15th century poetry from Kabir. Among featured essays are those by poet and one-time ambassador to India Octavio Paz, novelist Gita Mehta, and beloved Indian author R. K. Narayan. From the codification of personal law in ancient times, to caste, conflicts with Islam, and the evolution of new religions out of the space of Hindu thought, this is truly a hodge-podge. It is reminiscent of temple towers sharing space with flashy movie posters on Indian city streets. In a way, it is eminently representative of the complex, colorful chaos of Hinduism itself. Draw your own conclusions, repeatedly. Ifthey contradict one another, you are on the right track. One factual error must be mentioned. R.K. Narayan is referred to on page 167 as a "Nobel Prize-winning author." In fact, deserving as he was, Narayan was never awarded the Nobel. 2005, Thomson Gale, Ages 14 up.