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Language: English
Length: 480 Pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Rs. 2069
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Ashoka (Hardcover) Price: Rs.2069

This book reconstructs the story of Emperor Ashoka’s impact on Indian history, and takes readers through the reign of one of India’s greatest emperors.

Summary Of The Book

Ashoka, a king of the Mauryan dynasty, is one of the most recognized names in Indian history. His quest to expand his kingdom involved him in many wars. It is said that he was inspired by a Buddhist monk to realize the horrors of war, and hence completely gave up his aggressive policies.

Ashoka then undertook a different kind of expansion. He began to help Buddhist monks spread the teachings of the Buddha and thus spread his idea of peace. It was mainly because of Ashoka’s efforts that Buddhism became a major religion of the world. Under his influence, Buddhism spread all over India and even crossed the borders to reach countries like China and Japan.

The book, Ashoka, traces Ashoka’s history and legacy through historical evidences that have been gathered with time. A few stone monuments constructed during Ashoka’s time have been uncovered, and the inscriptions on these stones were deciphered by British historians.

The author pieces together these and other relevant data from that period to reconstruct the story of one of the most famous rulers of ancient India - a story that was lost till such monuments were discovered. The book presents an interesting view of Indian history, from the region’s pre-Islamic days to its post Islamic days. It also provides information on Ashoka’s family members, especially his many wives and children.

The book provides insights into the decline of Buddhist structures in the subcontinent, citing aggressive measures adopted by Hindu and Muslim troops as the reason behind the religion’s decline. It traces the life of the popular emperor, and portrays his slow transformation from being the man who slayed his countless step-brothers to being the man who spread the message and kind words of Gautama Buddha across borders.

About Charles Allen


Charles Allen is a British Historian and writer, and he was born in India in the year 1940. He belongs to a family of British colonials, who had lived in India and served under the British Raj for generations.

Most of Charles Allen’s work centers around South Asia. He has written other books like Kipling Sahib: Indian and the Making of Rudyard Kipling.  A Mountain In Tibet: The Search for Mount Kailas and the Sources of the Great Rivers of India.

Specifications of Ashoka (Hardcover)

Book Details
Publisher Little, Brown Book Group
Imprint Little, Brown
Publication Year 2012
ISBN-13 9781408701966
ISBN-10 1408701960
Language English
Binding Hardcover
Number of Pages 480 Pages
Width 6.20 inch
Height 240.0 inch
Weight 910.0 g
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Book Reviews of Ashoka

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Most Helpful Reviews (5 of 25)

09 June 12
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Intelligent & Gripping!

The book is a remarkable story of the discovery of Emperor Ashoka and his legacy.It speaks of how the greatest Emperor of India & a ruler the world has ever seen was mysteriously erased and his glory made oblivious from the history of India for almost 2,000 years.The book reprimands that it is very unfortunate that India lost him due to its religious prejudice & arrogance.Ashoka was eventually recovered from the dust of history by the arduous efforts, inquisitiveness & love for past of few good British men during their rule in India. It was their sheer brilliance that brought back to India its extra-ordinary and glorious past. The book is an exhaustively well-researched & well-written account on Indian history.Charles Allen, the author, has intelligently put together the pieces of archaeological findings,discovered antiquity and various literature on Ashoka and has placed in front of his readers a gripping tale about Ashoka, Buddhism & the Mauryan dynasty.
Honestly, a must read for the lovers of history!

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3 of 3 users found this review helpful.
05 February 12
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A definite read

A very simple to read and elaborate in details book about the glorious past of our country INDIA. I gives a remarkable footage about how our history [pre muslim invasion] is constructed and how the forgotten glory is restored. A must read for all Indians as well as those who care the great culture called India. Presentation is lucid and details are just perfect. Thanks a ton for the author for enlightening us.

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4 of 4 users found this review helpful.
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15 March 14
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Indology and Ashoka

Very often we hear that Indians do not have a sense of their history or there is not enough recorded history. Many writers in the recent past have contested this view with examples of our ancient literature including the Vedas which go back many thousands of years and the Puranas which have records until the medieval ages. But it is also true that there are not many comprehensive historical accounts of India by Indian sources covering until the first millennium or if they did exist, they were lost or destroyed during the numerous attacks against the people and culture of India over the past 1000 years.

Charles Allen's Asoka has done an excellent job by describing how the modern view of our history was "discovered" over the past couple of centuries by a group of passionate British Orientalists, later called Indologists. Despite the title of the book, the author focuses more on the Indologists and their achievements and Asoka happened to be a good example.

The book is organized very well and covers the earliest attempts at uncovering India's past from the Puranas and trying to map with some accidental discoveries of Asoka's rock and pillar edicts. The author takes us through a fascinating journey of how the details emerged due to the painstaking efforts of these Indologists, later turned archaeologists, over the past couple of centuries.

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30 October 12
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Loved the book!

Completely smitten with this "stumpy, pot-bellied, pumpkin-faced, fragile King who had the tendency to faint under stress".

The book itself is written like a detective story, narrating how Ashoka's life was painstakingly pieced together clue by tiny clue by the "Orientalists", beginning in the 18th Century.

At the same time, there's a faint hint of the author's tenderness towards this King throughout the book. In the way he regrets the way Ashoka and his efforts in making Buddhism the way it is now have been unrecognised even now, in the way he recognizes the tender feelings in Ashoka's one of the more emotional edicts near the Ajanta caves when he was young, and the way he talks about his appearance.

Loved the book. And now I want to know more details about King Ashoka Maurya.

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2 of 2 users found this review helpful.
09 February 12
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Great Book

Got it at a great price - pre-booked. Delivered unbelievably fast too. A very well written account of the Mauryan era. The clue by clue piecing together of the lost legacy of Ashoka makes it as un-putdownable as a racy detective story. The author laments the reluctance of India, even now, in giving its greatest ever monarch the respect he deserves. Perhaps a greater loss to India is its selective amnesia of the Buddhist legacy. The rise and fall of this great religion in India is also woven beautifully into the tale. The book also celebrates the tenacity, resourcefulness, intelligenge and fralities of the men, both Indian and British, who unravelled the whole Ashoka story over almost 150 years. Overall a great book for anyone interested in history, culture, travel or religion. Indeed maybe a good book to start if you havent yet tried this genre.

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    ISBN Number: 1408701960, 9781408701966, 978-1408701966


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