Monday, February 3, 2014

Ashoka by Charles Allen

This book's full title is "Ashoka, the Search for India's Lost Emperor". This book is really written as an adventure in finding information on Ashoka Indian ruler born around 302 BCE by colonial British amateur archeologist. It was however, a thoroughly enjoyable read

The problem is that Ashoka converted to Buddhism. Most Indians today are Hindu (with a large minority of Muslims). The Hindus at one point basically wiped out Buddhism in India so why should they celebrate a great King who was a Buddhist? I must admit I have not read many books on Indian history and would certainly like to know Indian history better.

There is a great review of this book at Winnowed. There is also an extremely interesting book review at Hindustan Times of this book. The reviewer, Patrick French, deployed the fact that Charles Allen talks about and gives most credit for information on Ashoka to British Colonist, not native Indians who did lots of work uncovering Ashoka. There is also another good review of this book by Samanth Subramanian at the Guardian.

Charles Allen talks at the Jaipur Literature Festival about Ashoka. This is an hour long video, which has Q&A at the end starting at around 37 minutes into the video. There is a 6 minute video on YouTube of Ashoka that is worth watching.

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Allen. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.

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