Buddha, by Karen Armstrong
Several years ago Karen Armstrong published Buddha, which was part of the Penguin Lives series. After a quick perusal, it appears to be a concise, academic, and historical biography about the life of Shayamuni Buddha and his teachings. With her previous books such as A History of God as proof of her intellectual prowess, I'm sure it will be an engaging read. Coincidentally , just before the release of her book , I started another biography of the Buddha called Old Path White Clouds written by the Vietnamese Zen monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. It is a longer, more devotional work based on the sutras rather than strictly archaeological evidence. What I liked most about it is that it conveys a feeling of how the Buddha and his community lived on a day-to-day basis. I have confidence in the authenticity of his description, because the author is a highly realized practitioner and teacher with a deep appreciation for the Dharma. Every night I would look forward to the sense of spaciousness, clear awareness, and freedom conveyed by his writing. I should add that Thich Nhat Hahn is a renowned poet, and his use of language is simple, beautiful, and evocative. All of his books are highly recommended.