The Practical Guide to kayaking and Canoeing is what its title says it is, it is thoroughly comprehensive, covering nearly every discipline that I can think of, with even a short section on the International Sailing Canoe, which is not covered in many such books.
The style is almost of a 'coffee table' book, and at the end of the read I was suddenly struck by what was unusual about it - the sheer number of photographs (all in colour). Helen Metcalfe, as the photographer has captured many of those moments that paddlers cherish, the quality of the pictures being high throughout.
The book is ideal to give a broad and thorough grounding in what goes on in the paddle sport world, in fact I would be surprised if any one really had much of a chance to try out everything shown in it. I suppose that this is the point of the book to give a taste of the full range of possibilities.
The equipment shown is all modern and relevant, and there was a more history than I was expecting from a contemporary publication.
I was surprised by this book, having met Bill Mattos on a few occasions, and knowing his local reputation (I even bought one of his old boats once). He is well known for his early involvement in freestyle paddling and being involved in Nookie paddling equipment. As such I thought it might cover the whitewater aspects of the sport in much more detail than the other areas, but this was not the case.
To some extent the limited choice of equipment brands shown was one drawback of the book, with a few unusual choices I thought, but it was probably what came to hand easily. I also think that for a real expert the book lacked depth, but then that sort of reader would be buying specialist books any way. These are minor points however.
Overall, this is a comprehensive book that is fresh, promoting and explaining the whole range of canoe sport very professionally.