A cogent, concise, and personable guide to a transformative faith.




A retired Japanese university professor and Buddhist priest introduces a major religion of his home country.

Widely practiced in Japan but less well-known in the United States, Shin Buddhism offers its practitioners salvation from the myriad cares of the world. “Salvation,” debut author Hirose explains, is “strictly a mental process such that one becomes able to cope with difficult situations.” In this, Shin Buddhism differs from other branches of the Buddhist faith; unlike Tibetan Buddhists, for example, Shin’s adherents “have no magical instruments, no sacred places believed to have supernatural powers, no magic words.” Instead, devotees concentrate on trying to “see things as they are without any bias or self-interest.” In pursuit of this, questions of morality and religion become uncoupled, selflessness is prized over selfishness, and various scriptures become simplified. Hirose describes how Shinran, the faith’s 13th-century founder, turned to the original Sanskrit teachings of Gautama Buddha to figure out which lines were intended literally and which symbolically. The tool he used to do this was a search for “universality,” as “a universal idea makes sense in any place at any time,” Hirose explains. Accordingly, teachings of the Buddha that would be acceptable in all cultures were thereby incorporated as canon in Shin Buddhism. Hirose compares this process to the formation of English common law in one of his brief and always useful personal asides. Readers will come away from this short book with a firm, uncluttered idea of an important and potentially alluring faith. Hirose is cleareyed about his own subject and aware of the ways that its teachings can seem abstruse, as when he admits that the essential part of one teaching is “very simple—perhaps too simple.” The dialogues that he includes at the end of each chapter serve as a sort of catechism, answering questions and reinforcing previous lessons. The author shows the patience of the practiced teacher that he is, and, with luck, he’ll be rewarded with worthy students.

A cogent, concise, and personable guide to a transformative faith.  

Pub Date: June 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4575-5004-1

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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