This is not really a book for absolute beginners, and it's important that you have read "Phantom of the Card Table" (no "s" after Phantom) if you want to understand it.
This book is amazing. It's not entirely a historical book, and not entirely a technique book, it's a bit of each. I won't write what it's about, you can read that above somewhere. You will read things about some of the greatest card magicians that you did not know. If you have an involved knowledge of card sleights, you will be tipped off on some of the most subtle yet powerful work ever used. If you own the original "Phantom of the Card Table", you will learn about the information that Scott HELD BACK from McGuire, tiny details that were hugely important to his system, stuff that would freak most magicians and laypeople out, because it's been largely forgotten.
Scott was an interesting man, he lived quite a life! And Gazzo is my new hero, and not simply for his magic, but because of his experiences and what he went through to meet Walter Scott and write this book. I learned things about him that i just didn't know. The last section of this book was heart wrenching, i cried as i read it. Gazzo rules and deserves a very high place in magic history/present/future. Thanks to Britland and Gazzo, this book reads like a brilliant piece of fiction, but the fact is that it actually happened, and this makes it all the more amazing. It would make one helluva film.
Every card magician who cares about the history of the art should own this book and re-read it at least once a year. It's that important.