This is my humble opinion on the importance and place of this book.
The Changes of Buddhism:
1. Theravada Buddhism = techniques of making art
2. Mahayana Buddhims = the skillful and creative artist
3. Western (existential) Buddhism = modern artist
Theravad: "The Life of the Buddha"
is filled with the actual teachings and words of the Buddha.
Mahayana: "A Guide To The Bodhisattva's Way of Life" by Santideva
is filled with relevant insights in everyday life that were first inspired
by the original words of the Buddha
Western: "Buddhism Without Belief" by Stephen Batchelor
asks do we really know? What is relevant?
Instead of accepting or rejecting,
we can admit that we don't really know,
but still be open minded and have the resolve
to continue to question and explore.
This is an excellent book using only material from the earliest accounts provided from the time of the Buddha.
You can make your own mind up about this enigmatic human being rather than relying on hearsay. It includes biographical material by observers, autobiographical accounts from the Buddha and also includes a section on the teaching. All sections are prefaced with opening remarks like the acts of a play in more or less chronological sequence of the Buddha's life.
Nanamoli was one of the best Pali translators and tries to produce as authentic and as lucid an account based on the Pali sources used.