20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 16 November 2006
Most books available on Buddhism on bookshelves at the popular level leave a great deal to be desired. Either they are written by people who have had no contact with Buddhism, culturally or by practice (or at best very little practice of the wrong sort) thus taking a literalist approach to translated Buddhist scripts or they are too specialist, providing a view of Buddhism based on only one school or a narrow emphasis, often hawking for influence.
Professor Harvey has both contacted Buddhism culturally and continues to make an honest attempt to put Buddhism into practice. An introduction to Buddhism is one of the best overall introductions to this vast subject now available, superseding equivalent good books which are by now up to 50 years too old. Harvey combines scholarship including a knowledge of Pali and Sanskrit along with sensitivity to the contexts in which the various scriptures can be seen.
In the forest of competing books out now, this one can be recommended without reservation.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 25 December 2012
I used the earlier version of this book in my MA Buddhist Studies Course and immediately purchased the new edition when it was published. An outstanding book is now even better.
It is academically rigorous yet written clearly with insight and humanity. It is the only book I have come across that I feel I can recommend to those with a serious interest in the full breadth of Buddhism.
It is an excellent starting point for further serious study and practice in Buddhism - after reading this you will be ready to look at particular approaches in more detail.
To really understand Buddhism it is necessary to practice what the Buddha taught. This book will see you started on that long and wonderful journey to wisdom, insight and compassion.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2002
The author is probably the UK's leading academic in Buddhist Studies based at Sunderland University. Accordingly this is an academic style of book, but easy enough to read for all that, and quite useful for browsing. For those just curious about Buddhism I would recommend 'Principles of Buddhism' by Kulananda, rather than this book. For a hagiography Schumann's 'The Historical Buddha' is a classic. However, for a very good foundation in Buddhism as a world religion in all its flavours this book is hard to beat.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 1999
Peter Harvey delivers an introduction to all of the major concepts and developments of Buddhism in one volume. It has an academic, technical tone pitched at a level perfect for the undergraduate or A-level student (it was written for his own students I think). If your interested in a book on Buddhism without all of the aethereal clap-trap this is the one to go for as there is no speculation only opinion and fact. A brillant buy!
on 11 July 2015
This is a standard textbook for MA courses in Buddhist Studies. The comprehensiveness, and lack of hand holding, certainly give it the feel of an MA textbook! At times, I felt I was drowning in excess detail, and was often left bemused, and wishing for overviews and examples. (But MA students are expected to provide their own examples and shouldn't need overviews...) My frequent bemusement was to be expected, as I don't have even an undergraduate degree in Buddhist studies. Still, it was an empowering bemusement. Harvey left me wanting to dig out easier explanations for some concepts, and come back and see if I can then understand him.That said, I also had much bemusement lifted. Harvey made many aspects of Buddhism much clearer to me, and introduced me to many things I had not encountered before. So the positives totally outweigh the negatives, and the negatives are mostly down to my ignorance, so five stars...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2014
You won't get much advice on how to meditate from this book, but it provides an excellent overview of the history, customs and practices in Buddhism. Not an easy read, but not to dry either. Recommended.