Part biography, part history, but mainly a journey of a man trying to understand the place of Buddhism in a modern India.
Even as a former scholar of Indian civilization and religion I discovered many new and interesting facts. Pankaj has researched well; the book strikes a good balance between academic rigour and accessibility.
India is described honestly and beautifully - from an insider's perspective but without partiality. He is clearly fascinated by his country and loves the people who either made a mark on its history, or struggle to exist from day to day. For an outsider there is a clarity about why India throws up problems and questions for the visitor trying to understand where modern India is going now and why the reality is so different to our preconceptions of India. All of this is cleverly interwoven with the main, important facets of the Buddha's life and message.
The Buddhist reader will feel refreshed and never patronised. The student in search of Buddhist knowledge could hardly do better than start with this book. Unlike the thousands of books on Buddhism out there, this one hardly ever repeats or goes over familiar ground. I believe he has achieved the near impossible by writing as though this has been a fresh discovery for him, rather than being passed from a particular tradition. You will be carried along by his curiosity and his style.