I had read another book of Rev. angel Kyodo williams and jumped at the chance to read this one. While not Buddhist I was intrigued by the topics of the book supposedly addressing racial injustice, white supremacy, etc. in Buddhist communities and wondered what I could take away from that.
And initially it was fascinating. The purpose of the book, the need to address these issues both within and without Buddhisim, what some of the terminology meant, etc. It sounded like it would be an interesting read.
Unfortunately it goes downhill after the introduction or so. The book reads very much like a conversation between the three authors. And while that is a format that can work, I can understand why people felt disappointed. It seemed like a conversation that was very much for them and their community. There's nothing wrong with that in itself, but the text does seem jargon-y and "isolated" for reasons mentioned above. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be getting from the book or their conversation.
It was interesting to read the perspectives of these practitioners and I felt I could somewhat get some of the points they were discussing. But ultimately the text was unapproachable for me. I don't know if someone who is an actual Buddhist might get more out of it but based on other reviews that might be a bit of a toss-up.
I regret buying it but this wasn't readily available at my local library. I'm not sure I'd recommend this. You may have to read through a few chapters (as williams says, you can read this pieces) to see if it's something that is for you.
The book cover is an accurate representation of what the book is about: the greatest hits in chocolate history. The author takes the reader through highlights of the history of chocolate: its origins, its cultural, societal, political impact, how it transformed into the candy we know today, bits and pieces of the big companies (the author works for Mars if that matters for transparency) that make those candies, etc. At the end there are recipes of various chocolate desserts, sweets, etc.
And that's pretty much the book. There are many lovely illustrations and pictures depicting chocolate, plus famous people, locations, types of chocolates, products associated with chocolate, etc. Some of the history was quite informative. I know some of the basics (cocoa beans used as currency, some of the histories of some of the companies) but I didn't know the stories of such things such as Eskimo Pies or the use of chocolate for the military or as part of POW kits from the Red Cross during wars, etc. I would guess that for a hobbyist or someone who is a fan of chocolate might really enjoy this part, but if you're a more serious historian it might not be much new since it's really just highlights and not a longer narrative.
Personally I appreciated that since that's not what I was looking for (or expecting!) out of this book. And at the end there are recipes of cookies, cakes, etc. If you eat chocolate you're probably familiar with many, if not most of the recipes but there were some I had never seen/heard of and seemed like interesting takes on chocolate. There are also some pictures of the finished product which was something I appreciated. I read another cookbook just a few days ago and was not happy about the lack of pictures, so these were nice.
Overall I'd say this probably would make more of a fun coffee table book to leave out for a guest or maybe a good gift for a hobbyist. It's not a substantial history, although that part takes up most of the book. And the recipes are probably not for expert cooks/bakers. I liked it but I would preferred borrowing it from the library.