M.L. West has always been interested in how myths were shared across the Classical world. In the 1990s, he wrote a monograph titled The East Face of Helicon on how Greek epic drew heavily from the Near East. Thinking about what the Greek tradition kept from the Indo-European heritage common to many cultures of Europe and Asia led him to this much vaster project. INDO-EUROPEAN POETRY AND MYTH aims to synthesize and extend research on what aspects of the literature of antiquity -- and even the Lithuanian and Latvian songs collected in the early modern era -- go back to Indo-European times.
The opening two chapters cover Indo-European poetry, revealing common poetic metaphors and principles of versification from Ireland to India. The bulk of the work, however, consists of comparisons of the mythologies of the Indo-European peoples, which West treats exhaustively with each chapter divided into a myriad of subthemes. For example, chapter 5 "Sun and Daughter" consists of the following sections:
The divine Sun. The Sun as a deity. Attributes; the all-seeing god. Oaths by the Sun.---The Sun's motion conceptualized. The solar wheel. The solar steed(s). The solar boat. The dark side of the sun. How old is all this?---Further mythical motifs.---Cultic observance. Salutation of the rising and setting sun. A taboo.---Dawn (and Night). Attributes; imagery. Dawn's lovers. The Dawn goddess and the spring festival.---The Daughter of the Sun. The Vedic evidence. The Baltic and Slavic evidence. The Greek evidence. Daughters of the Sun in other traditions. Astronomical interpretations. Ritual aspects.---Conclusion.
Because the subject is explored so exhaustively and the presentation is so dense, very few are going to read the whole thing. I have been keenly interested in Indo-European linguistics for years, but even I found myself skimming a few parts. However, there's no denying that the book brings together in a single volume all the divergent research going on among specialists in the various languages.
But the great flaw of this text is that it is too much a collection of earlier work on the subject, and thus reflects much speculation that has been overturned by later research. For example, West links a number of Greek words to Sanskrit or Iranian words, but Beekes' recent work shows these Greek words to be borrowings from the Pre-Greek substrate language and not inherited from Indo-European. (Indeed, Beekes has conclusively shown that Pre-Greek was non-Indo-European, but West at one point even incorporates into the text the obsolete idea that Greece was inhabited by another Indo-European people before the Greeks, the old "Pelasgian hypothesis".)
So, I can recommend this to readers with an interest in the subject, but be prepared to take everything with a grain of salt (or more). A second edition with a more critical approach would do much to remedy this infelicity.