The last set of books I will be looking at, for now, on the life of the Buddha is Hajime Nakamura’s two volume Gotama Buddha: A Biography Based on the Most Reliable Texts.
This set of books is much broader in scope than Bhikkhu Nānamoli’s The Life of the Buddha and H. W. Schumann’s The Historical Buddha (tr. M. O’C. Walshe). Nakamura relies on the Pāli Canon, as the others do, but he incorporates much more into his research on the historical Buddha: archeological findings, artistic representations of events in the Buddha’s life, as well as scriptures outside the Theravadan Buddhist tradition and outside the Buddhist tradition altogether. The result is a sometimes difficult, but rewarding and sophisticated discussion of the Buddha’s life – or, what can be pieced together about the Buddha’s life.
For those interested in reading about the Buddha’s life, I would suggest starting with either Bhikkhu Nānamoli or H. W. Schumann. Otherwise, it is easy to get lost in Nakamura’s details. But, if the interest is there, I highly suggest this two volume set. Nakamura sets a high standard for retelling the life of the Buddha!
(Note: To purchase Nakamura’s books, click on the following links – Gotama Buddha: A Biography Based on the Most Reliable Texts, Volume I and Gotama Buddha: A Biography Based on the Most Reliable Texts, Volume II.)