This 1,005 guide to Britain is certainly crammed full of information. Unlike early Rough Guides it's printed on high-quality paper and is in full colour. It's not a book you're going to want to wander around with though. The paper is light weight but this is still a hefty book.
As a result of its geographical spread, and contextualisation of not just the development of Britain, but the constituent parts - England, Wales, and Scotland (the Isle of Man makes it in but the Channel Islands don't) - and with `practical' information as well, there's not a great deal of detail. The West Midlands and Peak District combined into one section, gets fewer than 40 pages in total for example. This forms one of 25 regional sections, together with the separate practical and contextual sections. I'm not sure that sufficient detail is provided for visitors visiting even specific regions or major cities.
So is the book more of a taster to potential tourists not familiar with GB deciding where to visit? In some ways yes, as Rough Guides publish separate guides for England, Wales, and Scotland, and regional guides as well - on Devon and Cornwall, London, the Cotswolds etc. Arguably the GB guide would be used to select places to visit, referring then to a more detailed, and portable regional or country guide. But then again, the British guide also includes detailed maps of town and city centres, although not a lot of text recommending particular sights to visit, or indeed places to eat in or stay at - the latter seems especially haphazard at best with typically a good hotel, midrange accommodation and a hostel typically listed for towns included. So, the guide will be of limited use to give any detail to a place visited, but at least it'll be possible for a reader to find their way around...
Overall I think the guide fails to serve any readership particularly well. It's not a general work introducing the history and culture of Britain, it offers only limited information on particular places, and if used as a sole guide to GB a rather limited view of the country would result. It also suffers from two fundamental problems with paper guide books. It's too heavy and bulky to carry about, and although published only a couple of months ago it's already out of date. For instance it outlines the services of the (soon to be late) airline bmi baby which closes in September 2012. I wonder, therefore, if a better medium for guide books is as an e-publication produced for a colour tablet or mobile phone. I suspect this is going beyond the major concerns of potential purchasers of this book however. My advice would be to buy a more detailed regional guide if you know where you wish to visit, if you don't this guide will give you lots of ideas, but you'll need to buy an additional detailed guide book as well, which might be one of the excellent Rough Guide regional publications.
Overall, three stars.