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A Concise History of Buddhism [Hardcover]

Andrew Skilton
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

15 Aug 2003
An introduction to the history of Buddhism which explains the development of the religion's basic concepts over 2500 years, and describes Buddhism's diverse manifestations in its homeland, India, and its spread across Asia, from Mongolia to Sri Lanka, and from Japan to the Middle East.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 263 pages
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble Books-Imports; First Edition edition (15 Aug 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760748292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760748299
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 16.1 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 939,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in 1957 in Croydon, Surrey, Andrew Skilton began to develop an interest in Buddhism for a number of years before being ordained in 1979.

Increasingly drawn to the study of Buddhist doctrine and history, he studied for his first degree in Theology and Religious Studies, which he was awarded in 1988, at the University of Bristol. Having begun a study of the Sanskrit and Pali languages there, he moved to Oxford in 1991 where he completed his doctoral thesis on the Samadhiraja Sutra.

His other publications include a translation and study of Santideva's 'Bodhicaryavatara' (co-author Kate Crosby) and 'How the Nagas Were Pleased', a translation of the Buddhist drama, the Nagananda. He has taught at a number of universities, including Cardiff and McGill, and is currently a research fellow at King's College London. He edits the journal Contemporary Buddhism. He is writing an introduction to the study of Pali language.

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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good 3 Mar 2009
Format:Hardcover
A good source for essays, provides many details and different views on the Buddhist faith.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very useful short history 30 Jan 2006
By M. LATORRA - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Since its founding around 25 centuries ago, Buddhism has spread widely and diversified into numerous schools of thought and practice. Summarizing this long history and describing succinctly the many schools of Buddhism is not easy. Yet Andrew Skilton has accomplished this feat with apparent ease. And making something look easy is the hardest task any scholar can face.

I was astonished to see that one reviewer has claimed that this book is "Mahayana propaganda" based on a single reference. As I read it, I found Skilton's work to be very even-handed in discussing Mahayana and Theravada, without any proseletyzing or obvious mispresentation regarding either of these major schools of Buddhism. Skilton is disapassionate and fairminded, summing up history and doctrines with economy and precision. If there are errors in the book, I believe that they are minor and certainly unintentional.

I recommend this book highly.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars As good as I have read so far 12 May 2013
By Cool Breeze - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
All of the survey books on Buddhism have an angle that makes them heavy in one area and light in another. What a surprise!
24 of 46 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mahayana Propaganda 16 Nov 2003
By Eric Van Horn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
(Note that I have modified this review in 2013 to be - I hope - somewhat more helpful, so the comments by others reflect a prior rendering of the review. I haven't changed my mind about the book, but thought perhaps this version wouldn't push so many hot buttons. And I do take issue with anyone who says my claims "are simply wrong". If you are going to make such a claim, you should at least provide some evidence to back up your statement.)

I never finished this book because it was filled with so much misinformation, some of it egregiously wrong. If you keep reading things that you know to be wrong, at a certain point you decide that anything you read that is new is suspect anyway.

A simple example is that the author states that one school of Theravadan Buddhism emphasized the four "Brahma Viharas" (the "noble abidings" of loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity), even though - as he puts it - "there is no canonical evidence to support such a practice." This is simply not true. The Pali Sutthas are full of discourses on the Brahma Viharas. The Buddha mentions them frequently. Thanks to the Internet it is easy to test this claim. I especially recommend the web site "Access to Insight", which contains a great deal of canonical material. You can also look at the Wikipedia entry on the Brahma-Viharas.

If you want to learn Buddhist history, or want the best overall survey book on Buddhism, I strongly recommend "The Foundations of Buddhism", by Rupert Gethin. I'm a little surprised that Gethin's book hasn't found a wider audience. It is superb and highly regarded by many people who are known for their scholarship. If you are only going to read one book on Buddhism, that is the one to read.
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