The Buddha, by Karen Armstrong

buddha-2 karen armstrongPublished in 2000, Karen Armstrong’s lively and appreciative biography The Buddha went on to become a New York Times best seller.

Scholar, writer, and sometime journalist, Armstrong has also written fluently and sympathetically about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. She often focuses on ethical commitments to help interpret unfamiliar choices and lifeways.

In this book she offers a blend of early records and later legends as a biography of the founder of Buddhism. As far as I know, this is her only foray into publishing on Buddhism. Criticized as being too dependent on legendary material, too conjectural, and too overlaid with Western ideas and assumptions, the book is nevertheless readable and intellectually accessible. This popular biography is excellent for bringing the Buddha within imaginative reach. Readers who need or value a working understanding of his teachings may find it more mixed.

Armstrong, Karen. The Buddha. Penguin Lives Biographies, 2000. 240 pages.

Karen Armstrong’s The Buddha is also available as an audio book read by Kate Reading. (You can get two free books with a 30-day free trial of Audible.)