Part of Facts On File's "World Religions" series, this one-volume encyclopedia by Irons (consultant & director, Inst. for Culture, Commerce, & Religion) contains about 700 A-to-Z entries providing an entry-level overview of Buddhist history, key concepts and terms, branches, people, events, and movements. A short historical introduction, a chronology, and an explanatory map detail Buddhism's origin in India and its movement into Southeast Asia, Tibet, China, and Japan. Entries on Mahayana, Theravada, and Tantra explain the evolution of Buddhism's various branches; entries on key concepts such as impermanence, samsara (rebirth), nirvana, the Four Noble Truths, and the Eightfold Path give readers a basic understanding of the religion's core; and short biographies of important people provide a human context. Although the work's focus is Buddhism, also included are brief introductions to Daoism, Shinto, Confucianism, and other religious practices in East and Southeast Asia. Black-and-white photos are scattered throughout, but they are of poor quality and provide limited context. Other one-volume general encyclopedias of Buddhism include John Powers's A Concise Encyclopedia of Buddhism(2000), which contains more than 900 entries in 288 pages, and the Encyclopedia of Buddhism(2003), edited by Robert E. Buswell, which presents 500 entries in 1000 pages (though its $335 cost may be prohibitive, and the focus is more scholarly).
Gr 10 Up
In approximately 700 alphabetical entries, this volume covers the basic concepts, beliefs, and practices of Buddhism. Of note is its treatment of more than 200 prominent figures, past and present; major organizations and societies; and discussions of the religion around the world, from Afghanistan and Africa to the United States and Vietnam. Other Asian religions are also discussed. The entries are unsigned and vary considerably in length, quality, readability, and appeal. They conclude with further reading references. Assorted appendixes and black-and-white maps and photos round out the volume. Many locations mentioned in the entries aren't on the maps, including Tibet; there are internal inconsistencies in dates and spellings, and the articles about monks are weak. Overall, though, this is a compelling, practical, and straightforward work. Robert E. Buswell, Jr.'s Encyclopedia of Buddhism (Macmillan, 2004), a two-volume set with nearly 500 entries and more illustrations, emphasizes history and literature and is more theoretical.-Ann W. Moore, Schenectady County Public Library, NY