Michael Carrithers guides us through the complex and sometimes conflicting information that Buddhist texts give about the life and teaching of the Buddha. He discusses the social and political background of India in the Buddha's time, and traces the development of his thought. He also assesses the rapid and widespread assimilation of Buddhism and its contemporary relevance. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.