Unlike Jesus, there don't seem to be that many works on the Quest for the Historical Buddha (or Mohammed, for that matter)that attempt to use the approach of the prior movement. This book is a fascinating exception. Schumann makes a detailed attempt to sift through layers of evidence, physical and textual, to arrive at what is most likely the historical core of the Buddha's life. It cuts through a lot of demonstrably later mythology to show us an insightful and intelligent man in the process of discovering a profound outlook on life and struggling to found a community to preserve his discoveries. The work uses the Buddha's life as its structure, dealing with critical issues at places where they logically rise from the narrative, and stearing a path between the extremes of mere belief in anything that was written about Buddha and a mere hyper-skepticism that would leave us with little. What emerges is a rounded image of the Buddha's life and character, in all its highs and lows, that yet shows why he became considered The Light of Asia. It's a pity that it's out of print, so watch for used copies to pop up. In the meantime, Nakamura's 2-volume set is a suitable substitute that is even closer to the text-critical approach seen more typically in Jesus studies.
Excellent brief history of the person of Siddhartha Buddha, summarizing much disconnected information found in the Pali Canon, and organizing it into a chronology of his life, and the founding of the Buddhist Order. Many extremely interesting maps and pictures also. A valuable reference, should be a required text in any Buddhism 101 college course! My one quibble with this work is the presentation of the Buddha's Awakening in a somewhat overly rationalistic and reductive manner, which may appeal to some 'scientific' types, but will certainly disappoint the Mahayana Mystics, as well as even many Theravadans, I believe. But religious 'soteriology' is not the focus of this book, after all.