This is a very readable short book from a British pioneer of anthropology and early psychology, there are short comings, it is a book of its era and has the limitations of such but in many ways Rivers was ahead of his time and any contemporary reader shouldnt be too perturbed by his writing style.
There is no contents, which is a shame, although there is a preface (a little academic), really great index and each chapter is divided into subheadings. As a result its accessible, you can speed read or find just what exactly you're looking for quickly.
I liked the final chapter on mind and medicine the most, although it is the longest and is not subdivided with headings like the others it is still short enough to read in a single sitting (the book itself is pretty succinct and to the point without leaving you feeling "yeah, wish you'd expanded on that point" too often, infact not at all).
Rivers insights into conceptualisation in different cultures, whether its "savage" and "civilised man" or in various countries (he considers Australia, Polynesia, Indonesia, India, China and Japan, Africa and America), strike me as being ahead of his time. When comparisons are made there is no hint of prejudice, suppositions of superiority, worthiness or evaluation, like some recent "integrative" theorists or therapists. As a result its a fine, fine example of research and observation, an example to followed by others.
As a book its relatively jargon free and I did not find the language too difficult, it will interest anyone who is interested in Rivers himself (he was featured as a character in the "Ghost Road" novels, doing therapeutic interventions with "shell shocked" survivors of war), anthropology or social theory/concepts.
However I think it may appeal to other readers also, for instance anyone who's read a fictional or fantasy account of shamanism or magic and thrilled at explanatory notes or a fictional book of magic within the storyline. Fans of cross over novels where medicine, magic and religion are interwoven, like Tales Of The Dying Earth (Fantasy Masterworks)
may be interested in making a comparison between the footnotes and Rivers book. It would also be a good short book for any writer doing research on magic for a novel.