This is a good introduction to Buddhism as it is in the late 1980s in several countries: Tibet, China, Sri Lanka, South-East Asia, Japan, and India. Various schools of Buddhism are explained via their historical backgrounds and the underlaying fundamental philosophical concepts. Additional focus on the contemporary situtations in each nation is discussed which, unfortunately, often includes the perilous position of practing Buddhism in those places. It is more an overview of the variations in each nation resulting in a sense of the religious expression rather than a deep exploration of the Buddhist traditions.
That said, following the foreword by His Holiness the Dali Lama, the first chapters provide an clearly understandable introduction to the basic tenets and life of the Buddha. Color photos, often full page and double page layouts, futher convey the richness of Buddhism's heritage.
This large format, (meaning location in Oversized collection on the 3rd floor) is more than a pretty coffee table picture book; the photos are interesting to look at and the complementary accompany text while providing Buddhist thought and practice manages to stay readable. There is glossary to aid understaning of specific termonology and a bibliography pointing to other basic work on the subject.
While it provides an excellent introduction for general readers, other readers already familiar with Buddhism will appreciate the pictures and clearity of destinctions between Buddhist practices.
TIGER link: BQ4022.P68 1995 Oversized