The Gods Drink Whiskey: Stumbling Toward Enlightenment in the Land of the Tattered Buddha, by Stephen T. Asma (2005). See it at Amazon.com.
Before I left the U.S. to go traveling in Cambodia this summer, I searched and asked around for recommendations for non-history books, not travel guidebooks, about Cambodia. A lot of titles came my way, but nothing seemed suitable for reading on buses and boats, at bedtime in third-rate hotels, etc. A novel would have been acceptable, if it promised me the real flavor of the country, but I couldn’t find one that seemed right.
I’m not sure exactly how this book came to my attention, but I’m very glad it did. It not only suited me perfectly while I was experiencing Cambodia for two weeks in May; I liked it so much I read it twice. I’m prepared to recommend it to anyone who is thinking about going to Cambodia.
Stephen T. Asma is an American college professor who was invited to the Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, to teach a philosophy of Buddhism course to graduate students there. And if you wonder how and why a non-Asian, American guy got into a position of teaching Buddhism to Asians in a Buddhist country — well, suffice to say that after you have read the book, you’ll probably feel fine about that. Continue reading
Posted in Books
Tagged Book Review
Author: Ian Harris.
Publisher: Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2005
Size: xvi + 352 pages
This extremely impressive work has been reviewed several times. Ashley Thompson’s discussion in Buddhist Studies Review (24, 2 : 250-56) includes a metaphor for Harris’s work that is worth restating here. In synthesizing a truly massive array of materials, Harris provides “a sort of google-earth view of Buddhism in Cambodia, from the smallest details to the biggest picture.” Indeed, after a preface that surveys available secondary source material, Harris navigates for his readers the histories and practices of Cambodian Buddhism from the earliest Indic arrivals up through the present day. Harris has been praised (and rightly so) for his success in distilling work in French (especially that of François Bizot on esoteric Buddhist trends) and making it accessible to an English speaking audience, as well as for his success in shedding light on the relations between Buddhism and the traumas of the colonial and post-colonial periods. Thompson herself implies that not since Adhémard Leclère’s (Download full article). The book was also translated into Khmer by Nokorwat Publishing with the support of Prof. Ian Harris.
*Courtesy of http://www.buddhistethics.org