Cover image for The Buddha : a short biography
The Buddha : a short biography
Strong, John, 1948-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford : Oneworld, [2001]

Physical Description:
xv, 203 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Personal Subject:
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library BQ882 .S87 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Central Library BQ882 .S87 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Newstead Library BQ882 .S87 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Angola Public Library BQ882 .S87 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Hamburg Library BQ882 .S87 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Lackawanna Library BQ882 .S87 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Lancaster Library BQ882 .S87 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
Orchard Park Library BQ882 .S87 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Audubon Library BQ882 .S87 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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This incisive new biography charts not only the life of the Buddha in historical terms, but also considers what the life of Siddharta Gautama means to Buddhism as a whole. The art, rituals, beliefs, mythologies and practices of all the Buddhist schools are placed into a new light in this exceptionally authoritative and relevant account of the founder of Buddhism. Using charts, tables and a straightforward approach, this reconstruction of the true meaning and original life of the Buddha, as Buddhists see it, will prove a useful and interesting introduction for all those interested in this area.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Most scholars believe that the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, was a historical person, but scholarly consensus about the historical Buddha ends there. Unlike Karen Armstrong's Buddha: A Biography [BKL Ja 1 & 15 01], Strong's life doesn't begin with the Buddha's birth and end with his death. Instead, Strong's begins eons before the Buddha's incarnation as Gautama, with the Jataka tales, a huge body of world literature that tells of the Buddha's past lives as persons, animals, and sometimes gods. Strong argues that the past lives tell us as much about the Buddha as do the stories of his final incarnation. He examines the stories of the Buddha's primary life, too, of course, and continues beyond it to the present day, considering the significance of his relics--the parts of his body enshrined throughout the world--and of the literary body of sutras that resulted from his teachings. Strong's fascinating approach to religious biography furnishes readers curious about the Buddha with a deep and broad introduction to his many lives. --John Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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