This is one of the first books written on the life of the Buddha. Is is a beautiful book. A sign of the time it was written in, the turn of the 20th century, it is in a a prosaic form much like the Christian Bible. This is a good and a bad thing. It was was probably written this way to win over Christians or to present Buddhism is a prose that would be familiar to Christians. The time line is authentic as far as we know and the author did a wonderful job considering how new Buddhism was at the time the book was published. The translation is not that great but the main points are given. Again, the authors aims seems to present Buddhism as a religion like Christianity and not simply the Dhamma or Dharma which is stories and threads of wisdom meant to show the true meaning of things. There is no Buddhist scripture or Gospel. Only a large collection of discourses. The difference is subtle but worth pointing out and becomes apparent to the not so casual reader. This is a fine introductory book however, even if much of the translation is wrong. The author took some liberties making the stories sound biblical. The deeper teachings (not to be confused with esoteric, The Buddha was not into that) are lost in the simple prose.
I write this review mainly in response to the above review that claims that this book can replace Bodhi's Anthology. This is not true. The Anthology: Words of the Buddha is a collection of real discourses translated from Pali into English. The transcriptions are more accurate and the authors commentary brings into light the deeper teachings of the Dhamma. While the Gospel of the Buddha is nice in its biblical prose, the Anthology presents a much truer account of the Dhamma that may be practiced by anyone. Anthology: Words of the Buddha is dense and not light reading. The discourses themselves can be light reading; once you master their style and depending on the discourse. However, Anthology is written not as a biography but as an expose peeling back one layer of the Dhamma at a time to get at its deepest meanings. Comparing the two as to pick one over the other is quite cumbersome.
For a lighter rendition of the Buddhas story, and in sympathy for the previous reviewer, I would strongly suggest The Life of the Buddha by Bhikkhu Nanamoli. This weaves beautiful translations of the Nikays (Authentic Pali Discourses) into a accurate and complete account of the Buddha's life. It is not as dry as 'Anthology' because it lacks the commentary and it is presented as a biography. Is does not copy the prose of the Bible as does The Gospel of the Buddha but it is a heartfelt, moving account of the Buddha's life. Anything but dry.
One last thing. The cornerstone of Buddhism is mindfulness. Meditation. Not worshiping The Buddha as some cult of personality. The Gospel of the Buddha was written at a time when little was understood about mindfulness. At the very least is will not teach you how to be mindful or meditate. Anthology will get you started. The best mediation manual I have read thus far is Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond by Ajahm Bramn.
Stay away from about 90% of books on Buddhism. Only a true spiritual guide can expound on these ideas to bring them into your heart. Email me and I will give you a list of great books both dealing with Tibetan and Theravada styles.