Francis Bacon was an important and extremely influential thinker. An understanding of the origins of modern philosophy and science is incomplete without some appreciation of Bacon's thought. He has been a much debated figure (and occasionally, and often unfairly, a much maligned one). His ideas are frequently difficult, but they repay close study. A complete edition of his works was published in the nineteenth century and can be found in most respectable scholarly libraries, and a modern complete, scholarly and definitive edition is in progress (some volumes have already been published). But it has often been hard to purchase good, accessible and affordable editions of his writings.
As a scholar working on Bacon I can recommend this edition - it is ideal for students and the casual reader and provides a solid introduction to several facets of Bacon's thought. It contains some of Bacon's most important works, notably The Advancement of Learning (an encyclopaedic account and reorganization of knowledge), the Essays (which touch on a number of themes, often of a moral or political nature) and the New Atlantis (a short 'utopian' work which outlines an ideal society, in particular the organized scientific research at the heart of it). The volume also presents some lesser known pieces, including some poems and letters, that provide an interesting context for the longer works. The endnotes are very good and are especially helpful when dealing with Bacon's occasionally difficult style and the many now obsolete words and meanings, and they source (and where necessary translate) the many quotations used by Bacon. Brian Vickers' introduction to the volume as a whole and his several introductions to the individual texts are decent, and they frequently contain some interesting analysis of rhetorical and linguistic features of Bacon's writing, an area on which Vickers has done extensive work.
I have one caveat however. The book contains some major works (the title rather misleadlingly suggests all the major works), but because it only includes texts that were originally written in English it omits a number of important Latin writings. Among the works not here are the Novum organum (Bacon's most important philosophical treatise and a key text; several English translations exist), De augmentis scientiarum (the hugely expanded version of The Advancement of Learning and another important philosophical work) and De sapientia veterum (The wisdom of the ancients - a mythological treatise that was extremely popular in the seventeenth century and sheds some interesting light on the formation of Bacon's ideas). Also absent are any of Bacon's many writings on natural history - works central to his philosophical programme. Bacon wrote extensively on numerous subjects and a single-volume work can do no more than scratch the surface of his ideas (the new definitive and complete edition of Bacon's writings will extend to no less than 15 volumes). Vickers' volume is useful and serves as an excellent introduction to Bacon as a literary figure and prose stylist - but it falls short of being a good introduction to Bacon as a philosopher.
Overall this volume represents excellent value. To those unfamiliar with Bacon's thought and works it makes a good starting-point; those familiar will still find it useful as it brings together some important writings within a single volume. However, for a fuller understanding of Bacon's philosophy the Novum organum (and other works if possible) should be read in addition to the pieces in Vickers' edition.