From the Publisher
"For illuminating details on how Watts happened to be in the right place at the right time to bring Zen to the attention of millions, this biography is a must."
—Los Angeles Times
"Lucid, intelligent, and compelling...inspires ne
—Jack Maguire, author of Waking Up: A Week Inside a Zen Monastery and Essential Buddhism
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Popular Zen philospher Watts, whose bestsellers on oriental mysticism helped create a counterculture, privately insisted that he was a rogue, a fake and entertainer. Without either glorifying or sensationalizing Watts, this superb, intimately detailed biography assesses the impact of a flawed guru, the shy English-born scholar who, by the ``summer of love'' in 1967, had become a flower child brimming with confidence and flowing hair. Heavy drinking fueled by a gnawing sense of loneliness, three marriages replete with sexual adventures, writing and lecturing to support his seven children marked the life of a very human sage who seems an odd mixture of wisdom and childishness. Watts sought to reawaken Christians to the ``innerness'' of their religion; he also believed that assimilating Asian wisdom could help Westerners heal their schizoid mentality. Furlong ( Merton: A Biography shows how his ideas evolved and suggests their relevance for a new generation of readers. Photos. (October 28)
This first biography of the British expatriate turned Sixties counterculture guru, philosophical entertainer, and Zen popularizer is highly entertaining. Drawing on extensive interviews with surviving family members and making balanced use of Watts's amusing but selectively incomplete autobiography, Furlong paints a compelling portrait of a complex, brilliant man who wandered through three marriages and several careers while maintaining a lifelong involvement with Asian spirituality. Included are accounts of Watts's early education, his rise to prominence as an author, his experiments with psychedelic drugs, and his end as an exhausted alcoholic. Furlong successfully re-creates a colorful slice of recent American popular history through the life history of one of its famous protagonists. Paul E. Muller-Ortega, Religious Studies Dept., Michigan State Univ., East Lansing