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An End to Suffering
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About the Author

Pankaj Mishra was born in North India in 1969 and now lives in London and India. He is the author of The Romantics, winner of the Los Angeles Times's Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, Granta, and the Times Literary Supplement.

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Mishra (The Romantics) offers an ambitious "book-length essay" that combines an overview of the life, times and teachings of the Buddha with personal anecdotes and extended multidisciplinary forays into realms such as ancient and modern history, philosophy, politics and literary criticism. If Mishra's approach is broad, it is also deep and often effective. For example, his close reading of early Indian scriptures and his historical-political examination of the Buddha's society bring to life a "half-mythical antiquity" that, in turn, helps the reader see the Buddha's teachings afresh: not as generic spiritual truisms but rather as specific responses to particular religious and social conditions. Yet the book fails to anchor its broad perspective in a strong central thesis. While it follows the chronology of the Buddha's life, Mishra intersperses whole chapters exploring topics such as "The Death of God" and "Empires and Nations." These discussions of Nietzsche's opinions of the Buddha or Zen Buddhism's endorsement of Japanese imperialism are themselves compelling, but feel disjointed. Mishra also frequently shifts the focus to his own life; sometimes this artfully illustrates a point, but at other times it borders on the self-indulgent. Nevertheless, for serious readers the book is a rich and challenging-if sometimes meandering-invitation to explore the Buddha's legacy across centuries, continents and cultures. (Dec.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

In this extremely well-written, almost crystalline narrative, Mishra (The Romantics) escorts the reader on a journey from the small-town Hindu culture of his birth to his tawdry university experience, contemplative life in India's rural north, and finally his life in Europe and America. The larger part of this treasure, though, consists of Mishra's account of the mythical and historical lives of the Buddha and Indian Buddhist culture. The carefully interwoven account results in thoughtful and lucid juxtapositions of contemporary India, including a possibly more glorious Buddhist past, contrasted with the modern West. Highly recommended for public and academic collections to join Karen Armstrong's Buddha and works by Thich Nhat Hanh.-James R. Kuhlman, Univ. of North Carolina at Asheville Lib. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Part biography, part history, part travel book, part philosophic treatise, [and mainly] intellectual autobiography, [by someone who] 'couldn't sit still' long enough to meditate successfully . . . Mishra's book is in the best tradition of Buddhism, both dispassionate and deeply engaged, complicated and simple, erudite and profoundly humane." --The New York Times Book Review"Succinct, lucid, and coherent." --Los Angeles Times"[A] journey of self-discovery . . . [Mishra] struggles to reconcile lessons of the Buddha's life with his own shrinking world." --The New Yorker"The only sane response to the post-9/11 world." --Elle

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