This book is priceless for someone who is new to non-electric lighting or is completely unfamiliar with it. Matson gives a bit of history, a bit of introduction to the various types of firelight, a bit of detailed instruction on how to use the various types of lights. The book has limited information on cleaning, maintenance, and upkeep of the various lights.
The book itself contains only black and white photos (no color) which points back to its initial printing in the early 80's. While this is a new edition of the book, much of the content seems to be the same as the First Edition and the photos have not been updated. This book will last a long time! The paper quality is impressive. The pages are such heavy weight paper that it's nearly made of cardboard!
Matson's focus is on the "living off the grid" alternative lifestyle. Because of that, Matson seems to focus primarily on brightness of the lighting and a little bit of the eco-friendly element of certain lighting types. Portability, weight, fuel availability, and durability of the lamps are mostly overlooked in this book. Matson seems to favor mantel lighting over other types of lights. He highlights and even seems to promote the expensive and delicate Aladdin lamps with their round wicks, fragile mantels, and tall fragile chimneys. He is also a big proponent of Liquid Propane Gas (LPG) lighting.
He seems to brush over the ubiquitous, simple, durable, and reliable kerosene wick lantern. A good quality, portable kerosene lantern (i.e. a cold-blast, hurricane lantern) may not be as bright as a mantel light; however, they are much less expensive and less fragile. Also, a kerosene lamp/lantern can be used indoors without too much concern for carbon monoxide which is something that you do have to be concerned about with LPG and gasoline/Coleman lanterns. Matson does touch on that issue a little, however. What he doesn't discuss is the difference between dead flame, hot-blast, and cold-blast kerosene lanterns. In fact, he really doesn't spend more than a couple of pages discussing kerosene "hurricane lanterns" at all. Kerosene lanterns have been relied upon for dependable, portable emergency lighting for decades. I found Matson's coverage of kerosene lanterns very lacking.
Another detail he seems to overlook is that while LPG lighting is generally safe and the gas is not the most expensive fuel, portable LPG lamps are not the most eco-friendly. In fact, he doesn't really get into the portable LPG lanterns in this book; another fact that points to the age of much of the writing. Portable LPG lights (e.g. the Coleman lanterns that run off of the green LPG tanks) require you to carry the heavy, steel bottles with you and to find an appropriate place to dispose of the empty cylinders--not "eco-friendly". Matson doesn't really address this aspect of LPG lighting. Instead, he seems to focus more on LPG as a permanent lighting method inside of a dwelling. He discusses the LPG lamps that you might attach to the wall (like a sconce) inside of a cabin.
So Matson's focus in this book seems to be on "living off grid" and not paying The Man for electricity rather than focusing on emergency preparedness and/or camping. Little is mentioned about emergency preparedness (mostly confined to the beginning of the book) and nearly nothing about camping concerns.
Still, this book is a great introduction to non-electric lighting for the novice and because of that, it will serve to provide a solid understanding of the basics for someone who has an eye toward emergency preparedness...or living "off grid". He does cover the Coleman white gas/gasoline lanterns and kerosene lanterns enough to introduce you to them for your consideration if you are looking for camp lighting.