The Buddha: A Short Biography

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This new biography charts not only the life of the Buddha as it happened, but also considers what the life of Siddhartha Gautama still means to Buddhists today.

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Overview

This new biography charts not only the life of the Buddha as it happened, but also considers what the life of Siddhartha Gautama still means to Buddhists today.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Employing both history and myth in a steady yet open style, Strong has very admirably achieved his goal of producing a "middle way" biography of the Buddha for interested generalists and students alike. His approach falls soundly "between seeing the Buddha as a god and seeing him as `just a man.'" Strong deftly delineates the factual dimensions of Siddhartha's life, such as the geographic range of his teachings, and also offers more fantastic accounts not as well-known in the West. One such example is "the miracle of double appearances" at Sravasti,where the Buddha appeared with his body double, projecting flames and water from them both, all the while teaching to the masses at his feet. In six chapters (plus an introduction, ample supplemental material and a useful index), Strong embraces stories about the Buddha's previous lives; ancestry, birth and youth; quest and enlightenment; teachings and community; daily routines, miracles and distant journeys; and final days. Fascinating tables synthesize vast tableaux of his good and bad karmic deeds over "incalculable ages and aeons," beginning with his resolve for Buddhahood and culminating in his complete extinction, or last death. Strong's work is a splendid complement to Karen Armstrong's masterful Buddha, which created a man out of his times. These short biographies focus on different aspects of Buddha's life, though each is complete unto itself. (Nov. 30) Forecast: Readers have already demonstrated a hunger for short, accessible biographies of the Buddha; Karen Armstrong's Buddha was a steady presence on PW's Religion Bestsellers list earlier this year. Whether there is room for another excellent little Buddha bio remains to be seen.Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This highly readable account of the Buddha's life begins with Siddhartha Gautama's last rebirth and guides the reader through the Buddha's seemingly infinite past lives; human ancestry, birth, and youth; spiritual quest and awakening; teachings and community; daily routines and miracles; and final "complete extinction." While clearly delineating what little is known of the historical Gautama, Strong (religion, Bates Coll.; The Experience of Buddhism) focuses on the Buddha "of story," comparing and contrasting variations in the many tales about the Buddha found in canonical and postcanonical texts. His short biography is of greatest interest to readers seeking to understand Buddhist perspectives on this seminal life and is an excellent complement to Karen Armstrong's more interpretive, widely held Buddha (LJ 1/01), which offers more comparisons to the contemporary environment and religious movements. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. James R. Kuhlman, Univ. of North Carolina at Asheville Lib. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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