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The Buddhas of Bamiyan: The Wonders of the World [Hardcover]

Dr Llewelyn Morgan
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 May 2012 Wonders of the World
The Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan, carved in the sixth century AD, represented two aspects of the Buddha, universal and historical. In March 2001 the Taliban destroyed them. They were massive, 55m and 38m tall, hewn out of the solid rock face and it took weeks to bring them down. The Buddhas have a remarkable story to tell, from their creation at a time when Greek culture left behind by conquest influenced Buddhism to their role in the lead up to the destruction of two other colossi from a different era in New York in that same year. A book about the Buddhas is also a book about Bamiyan, a place that occupies one of the most strategic positions on earth and is also stunningly beautiful. And about the remarkable Hazara people who live in that valley and have played a central historical role in the history of the whole region. It is rare that a historical account of an extraordinary monument can also be of urgent contemporary relevance.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (3 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846683769
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846683763
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.6 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 468,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Written with enthusiasm' -- The Times

'The latest addition to Profile's brilliant Wonders of the World series ... tells the fascinating story of these figures ... He begins with their ignominious end and recounts western responses to them, their construction and the wealth and importance of Bamiyan to have been able to create such structures.' -- Financial Times

'Morgan has done what no others have been able to do, including UNESCO, Japan, and Switzerland, who have all pledged to rebuild the Buddhas. He brings them to life, again, and let them tell their tales, still etched in stone, words in air.' -- The Daily Beast

'Morgan tells an exemplary tale- of violence and tranquillity, survival and loss, ownership and iconoclasm.' -- TLS

'In The Buddhas of Bamiyan, Llewelyn Morgan ... explores not so much the heartbreaking demise of the statues as their remarkably long lives ... The story of Bamiyan, Morgan suggests, is really the story of Afghanistan itself.' --Guardian

'the latest addition to Profile's brilliant Wonders of the World series ... tells the fascinating story of these figures ... He begins with their ignominious end and recounts western responses to them, their construction and the wealth and importance of Bamiyan to have been able to create such structures.' Financial Times

--Financial Times

Book Description

The 'other' decimated twin Wonders of the World and the tragic country of Afghanistan

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating but sad story 30 May 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Buddhas of Bamiyan is a beautifully written, heartfelt eulogy to these astonishing monuments. Carved into an Afghan cliff face 1400 years ago, the Buddhas were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. Morgan's book tells their story and, through it, the messy, complicated story of Afghanistan. He takes the reader from the peaceful seventh century Buddhist kingdom of Bamiyan to the confusion and fear of the modern, war torn country.
Morgan has a clear, accessible style. His extensive and detailed research is obvious as the book contains new material and previously unpublished photgraphs.
Nobody will ever see these monuments again, but this book is undoubtedly the next best thing. Morgan has recaptured what he could of the essence, history and atmosphere of the Buddhas of Bamiyan and by doing so he has given them a meaning and significance that will hopefully outlast their Taliban destroyers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By ajvs
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Resisting the temptation to entitle this review "I can't believe it's not Buddha", I have to confess that I didn't come to this book as a historian, a student of Buddhism or someone with a particular interest in the present-day situation in Afghanistan, but, rather, as a listener intrigued by a recent item on Radio 4's `Today' programme on this now destroyed wonder of the world. Llewellyn Morgan's enthusiasm, his desire to entertain as well as instruct, was as evident in the radio interview as it is throughout his book.

A photograph of a VW Beetle parked between the larger Western Buddha's feet gives an indication of the huge size of the monuments and the same early pages hint at the huge scope of Dr Morgan's task as he traces the "periodic spasms of celebrity" enjoyed by the Buddhas, from their construction to the "deep paradox" of their destruction and the possible future of other, surviving treasures. It is a task well suited to both his scholarship and his ability to guide readers through the maze of original and often conflicting sources chosen from writers far removed from each other in time and intention, ranging from Xuanzang in the seventh century to Mullah Omar in the twenty-first.

If ever the sheer diversity of evidence threatens to dispirit the non-specialist reader, it is well worth allowing a little time for its assimilation, for cultural and political insights abound: from the fact that Afghanistan has arguably never fully recovered from the Mongol invasion in the thirteenth century to the origin of the European fashion for cashmere shawls in the nineteenth as the country came to exert a powerful mystique over Westerners.

It was the size of the Buddhas that ensured they were destroyed "so that no one can worship or respect them in the future".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An admirable and clearly written history 6 Feb 2014
By CK-N
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A clear and detailed review of these amazing sculptures, and their location. Morgan has manipulated a very wide range of sources on a highly complex subject, to produce an excellent primer, not just to the statues, but their context in time and space.
The illustrations are intriguing, the bibliography is thorough enough for one to easily lose a couple of years following the threads. His emotional connection to the region and the country is apparent, without overwhelming the story. He covers a lot of ground, one could easily get distracted given the richness of his subject, but he is disciplined, informative and interesting. One can only hope that the security situation in Afghanistan over the next few years permits him to follow up his studies in this area. He's done a great job so far. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hauntingly tragic story 8 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Even if you know the ending - the Buddhas were blown up - this is still a fascinating study of them and the culture that produced them.
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