This is the most complete, most detailed, and most illuminating book on the history and development of musical theater, from its beginnings to the present day. It is perhaps more than some want to know about this art form, and yet if one is to really understand it, the amount of detail provided is extremely helpful. Another reviewer has pointed out that the author's personality does not come through, but this is clearly meant as a scholarly (in the best sense of the word) work, where personal opinion would be out of place. I love the opinion-laden books of Ethan Mordden, but am always aware that I am reading a very particular viewpoint. Here, I have the feeling that the author is trying to pull together all this is known about musical theater in the U.S., in a way that helps us make sense of the various streams of influence, as they have joined to create a form that itself has shifted and changed over the years. This is not a book I was able to read straight through--I found myself reading a chapter, and then putting down the book to think about what I had read. That's unusual for me. I like the way the book is organized, with 3-4 musicals per chapter used as examples--often in great detail. This heavy volume is clearly a labor of love, and I know of no other recent book that provides so much information on the subject.