Ken Perlman packs a gig bag-full of fingerstyle guitar into this book. While it definitely targets novice fingerstyle players, it is not a book for those just beginning to play the guitar. Although Perlman introduces tablature, he assumes the player can read standard notation and already has a good knowledge of the fingerboard. Also, because much of fingerstyle is based on movable chord positions, the student should have some facility negotiating between chords.
That said, the book begins by introducing the style of alternating bass and builds increasingly complex melodies and techniques over this basic pattern. The student will learn all the standard left hand techniques (hammer-on and pull-off notes, slides, graced notes, etc.) as well as some development of the right hand. Perlman's approach is to use individual songs to introduce each concept which keeps the learning process musical without being overly didactic. In my view, there are several points that elevate Fingerstyle Guitar above most other instructional books. First, Perlman selects great acoustic guitar music. If you like the simple yet wonderful style of Mississippi John Hurt, it's there within the first few pages. With about 40 songs in all, the blues, roots and Celtic tunes are great fun to play, and much of the credit goes to Perlman's arranging and writing abilities. I also like the way Perlman sets each song up, giving the student some context in regard to the composer, or the song's history. And finally, following each piece, Perlman focuses on specific measures in the song that may be problematic, such as fingering patterns in chord transitions or tricky syncopations.
While Fingerstyle Guitar starts from a very basic level, the pace of skill development is brisk. For example, open tunings are introduced barely half-way through the book. The tunes near the end of the book, such as Joplin's "The Entertainer", are definitely for the capable intermediate guitarist. Therefore, I would also recommend the book to anyone who has previous exposure to fingerstyle.
For the intermediate-to-advance level player, Perlman's Advanced Fingerstyle Guitar is an excellent companion book which follows the same basic format set-out in Fingerstyle Guitar. Centerstream Publications has done a good job in the clear presentation of text and notation for both books. I particularly like the use of archival photographs of musicians that begin each chapter.
Overall, you won't be disappointed with Perlman's approach to Fingerstyle Guitar.