This book, perhaps better than any other I've read, brings to light the unique philosophical position of the Buddha. Carrithers clearly explains how the Buddha stood out from the intellectual background of his time and helps one understand how and why the Buddha arrived at his views. A brilliant account of the Buddha's life and teachings not only for its scholarship but also for its refreshing lucidity.
This work is in essence a reprint of the earlier Past Masters work 'The Buddha'. It provides a succinct, clear overviews of the historic Buddha, his teachings and the development and spread of these up to the present day.
Written by a British Anthropologist from an academic perspective - but accessible to general readers, this work is stripped of the enigmatic and ethereal detritus that presents a barrier to understanding in some Buddhist writing, especially for those of an empirical and sceptical bent. Despite the detached, academic style, it is nevertheless clear that Carrithers is deeply impressed with Buddhism.....as will many readers be after finishing this book.
This work is very short, only around 100 pages, and this adds to its power. I recommend it unreservedly as a concise introduction to Buddhism. Certainly the most succinct, lucid yet thougrough overview of Buddhism that I've yet read.