A very short verdict: Give this book a miss.
I am not really sure what something I was expecting, but after reading this book I know that it did not offer that something. It seems that the author forgot a few things before he sat down to write:
1. Religious/ Ethical systems don't exist independently of some group of people. So, it really doesn't make any sense to say that "Buddhist morality says X." Everything depends on who is interpreting and at what time. ***And from that it follows that we want to know: "Through whose eyes are these ethical values seen?" At two different places (at the same time), you can have people who are strict Buddhists (Thailand) but are able to defend themselves. And then you can have other people who are also Buddhist, but have lost the ability to defend themselves (Tibetans-- though they were once able to defend themselves). At two different times at the same place, you can also have a different interpretation. Just before the Tang Dynasty, the Tibetans were the roughnecks of Asia. But then that fell off over some number of centuries after the Tang Dynasty. You can have some people in one place and at one time who take only selected bits of Buddhism and then forget everything else. (They don't put down animals in Thailand, but there is no problem with prostitution. They don't tell the truth as a rule, but they do make ritual offerings.)
But even if I gave the author the first point (and that's a big concession), then there is the second problem:
2. There is nothing like a steady flow of responsa so that we can trace the schools of thought in one place (or even many places). Some of the sources he cites are from the 4th century. It can be said that the Old Testament is a primary source for Jewish law, but Rabbonim have kept busy for over 2,000 years writing interpretations and expansions of the law. (No, you can't mix milk and meat, but how does that apply to Tupperware and Teflon? What constitutes a legitimate conversion? People have actually answered those questions and the answers have changed over time-- and are still in flux even up to the present day.) I see only limited evidence of modern writings (the only modern source he seems to have is the Journal of Buddhist Ethics, and even that is only about 20 years old) and thus: We can't see any evolution. (Presumably the Buddhist clergy does not busy itself with writing responsa/ encyclicals.) It is highly unlikely that people were thinking about "ecofeminism" 1,000+ years ago, and if there is no paper trail (responsa, encyclicals) then how do we know that anyone of import (i.e., clergy) is thinking about it at all? To say that "Buddhism" says X would mean that Buddhist *clerics* commonly take some definite position on X. ("Islam" does not say anything about the proper selection of the caliph. Sunni clergy say that he must be popularly elected and Shia clergy say that he is properly through Ali's bloodline.) It is not good enough to imagine that some celebrity says: "Oh, I read some pamphlet about Buddhism while having a mani-pedi and *I* think that we should protect the environment because it's a cool Buddhist thing to do."
That brings us to the third problem in his trying to present "Buddhist Ethics."
3. When you have some people somewhere who have some comfortable situation-- if a new belief system comes along, then that belief system has to accommodate the local culture. There are no superior (or inferior) races in Islam, but most Arabs prefer to be lighter skinned. All human beings are made in the image of God (Jewish/ Christian), but slavery can be just swept under the carpet. (It existed long before the church/ mosque did). So....I am not sure what it means to talk about idealized Buddhist ethics if no one anywhere follows them.
a. This author can go back and find that people should not have extramarital affairs. (Whither Japan?)
b. People should not have oral or anal sex with a woman (Thailand? If they followed that rule to the letter, half of Thailand's GDP would disappear.)
c. People should cultivate a spirit of peace (Japan. Again. Through both World Wars.)
And so it follows to ask: How much of this is because of local conditions in some place and how much of it is because some rulers saw that this is a good way to behave in accordance with "ethical Buddhist precepts"?
What could have made this book better? I am not sure that this book could have been saved.
1. The author really needed some charts. A picture is worth 1,000 words, and nowhere was it more true than here. He seems to have given us 1,000 lists of things (six of this, four of that, eight of this) that it became impossible to organize the information.
2. The author told us that he would organize the book in contradistinction to the Western (Judeo-Christian) tradition, but his examples are not so many. McKeown could have taken some topics and compared, say, the monotheistic traditions and their sources of authority vs. the Buddhist traditions.
3. Or if he had analyzed the writings of some highly esteemed clergy to either: 1) Give us an idea of the mood at this instant in time; or 2) To give us an idea of the change of mood over some long period of time.
What did we learn?
1. Buddhism has not studied Ethics (in the Western sense) because (according to the author) it developed under autocratic traditions and so there was no need for the formalizing of Ethics as a study because the no people outside of the ruler's family had to deal with the issues of managing a state.
Affirmation of the verdict: Not worth the time. Not worth the money. Give the book a miss.