An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices by Peter Harvey (2nd edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

In this new edition of the best-selling Introduction to Buddhism, Peter Harvey provides a comprehensive introduction to the development of the Buddhist tradition in both Asia and the West. Extensively revised and fully updated, this new edition draws on recent scholarship in the field, exploring the tensions and continuities between the different forms of Buddhism.

Harvey critiques and corrects some common misconceptions and mistranslations, and discusses key concepts that have often been over-simplified and over-generalised. The volume includes detailed references to scriptures and secondary literature, an updated bibliography, and a section on web resources.

Key terms are given in Pali and Sanskrit, and Tibetan words are transliterated in the most easily pronounceable form, making this a truly accessible account. This is an ideal course book for students of religion, Asian philosophy and Asian studies, and is also a useful reference for readers wanting an overview of Buddhism and its beliefs.


Personal Comments: For someone desiring a comprehensive and authoritative overview of Buddhism, this would be an excellent resource. This book has been extremely helpful in my own studies. I ended up purchasing both the book and the Kindle version. (Alexander Peck)

Citation: Harvey, P. (2013) An introduction to Buddhism: teachings, history and practices. 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


The Foundations of Buddhism by Rupert Gethin. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Buddhism is a vast and complex religious and philosophical tradition with a history that stretches over 2,500 years, and which is now followed by around 115 million people. In this introduction to the foundations of Buddhism, Rupert Gethin concentrates on the ideas and practices which constitute the common heritage of the different traditions of Buddhism (Thervada, Tibetan, and Eastern) that exist in the world today.

From the narrative of the story of the Buddha, through discussions of aspects such as textual traditions, the framework of the Four Noble Truths, the interaction between the monastic and lay ways of life, the cosmology of karma and rebirth, and the path of the bodhisattva, this book provides a stimulating introduction to Buddhism as a religion and way of life.


Personal Comments: This book provides a good comprehensive and reliable overview of Buddhism, even though published in 1998. I have found it a very accessible work and drawn on it extensively in my own studies. I ended up purchasing both the book and the Kindle version. A PDF version can be found online I believe. (Alexander Peck)

Citation: Gethin, R. (1998) The foundations of Buddhism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.