This is a good guide to this part of the country. The author writes well and makes the entire book a joy to read. It's no ordinary directory of places to sleep and eat. The compilation of sights is excellent, as are the suggested itineraries for travelers of varying interests. There are plenty of cultural and historical contexts to make for enjoyable and informative reading as well.
Jim brings a real working knowledge of these cities to his writing and it shows. Though presented together in this guide, Charleston and Savannah are two different species. Charleston is the older town, with roots in the English Caribbean, and is the more dense and quaint of the two. Savannah is of a bolder, more self-consciously Anglo-Irish presentation. Charleston is thoroughly gentrified, and is blindingly expensive. Savannah still has areas that are on the up, and are accessible to mere mortals.
The coverage is most complete in Savannah, and the author is really in his element here. It's the best chapter in the book. The section on Charleston is a bit thin, but Charleston is so rich with sights and sounds that it's difficult to distill that material into something small enough for a guide like this. As it is, I like the author's choices of sites.
For a travel guide to really earn its place, it needs to bring the best, most authentic and most valuable lodging, dining, shopping, culturing and outdooring options to its readers. This one does that well, but I did get the feeling that the listings for Charleston were a bit incomplete, particularly for lodgings. The "Fodor In Focus" guide is slightly better in this area.
The listings that ARE included are right up to date. You won't be led astray by erroneous references, "out of business" signs, or disconnected phone numbers. He's included the most well-known and reputable establishments, so they'll be alive and well when you arrive.
Beaufort, South Carolina, a kinder, gentler (and smaller!) version of Charleston gets a nice spread in these pages too. So Southern it hurts, and a many-time movie set, Beaufort is worth your attention as a stop on your way from Charleston to Savannah.
Overall, I'd say this is about as good a guide as you can expect for this region, squeezed into about 400 pages. And as long as you use the guide as intended - as a travel guide, rather than as a history book - you will be satisfied with its content.