Buddhism is a faith that commands over 100 million followers throughout the world. Buddha revolutionized the religious ideas of his time to advocate a new way of living. All that is known about him comes from a collection of ancient writings that fuse history, biography and myth. Karen Armstrong distils from these the key events of Buddha's life: his birth as Siddhatta Gotama in the fifth century BC and his abandonment of his wife and son; his attainment of enlightenment under the Banyan tree; his political influence; the divisions among his followers; and his serene death. Armstrong also introduces the key tenets of Buddhism. In our own age of secular anxiety, she shows that it has profound lessons to teach about selflessness and the simple life.
Karen Armstrong spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun, an experience she recollected in her two volumes of best-selling autobiography, Through the Narrow Gate and Beginning the World. She is the author of the world-wide best-seller, A History of God (which has now appeared in more than thirty languages), the acclaimed History of Jerusalem and, most recently, The Battle foe God. She is a teacher at the Leo Baeck College for the Study of Judaism and, in 1999, she received the Muslim Public Affairs Council Media Award.