I got this book for a gift. I do quite a bit of cooking and enjoy barbecue and barbecue culture. Off the top of my head, here are three books of a similar genre that are better than this doorstop:
Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country
BBQ USA: 425 Fiery Recipes from All Across America
Peace, Love, & Barbecue: Recipes, Secrets, Tall Tales, and Outright Lies from the Legends of Barbecue
At the broadest level, the writing in Prophets has all of the passion, style, and enthusiasm of a Yelp review, and many of the grammatical errors and typos. This book is hundreds of pages of "I went here, I ate this. The pie was good. The brisket was disappointing. Moving on." That last bit is an actual sentence: Moving on. With a few exceptions, it's difficult to tell that the author spent much time talking to the owners, fellow patrons, or folks from the towns. Compared to Smokestack Lightning, the writing is just dull. There's no overriding narrative here or even some good individual stories. Just a glutton and his friend packing it in day after day. I couldn't tell you a single thing I learned from this book.
All of this would be ok if there were recipes. BBQ USA is a huge book with tons of recipes that still manages to be a better read than Prophets. You get the feeling that Steven Raichlen spent the time with the folks he visited, swapped stories, and observed their operations with a researcher's curiosity, not a collector's desire to check something off his list.
What makes the books above better than Prophets is that the authors are passionate: passionate about food as culture and history, passionate about their own cooking, barbecue, and sharing their love with others. You get absolutely none of that love or passion from this book. I can't imagine what the intended audience is for this book -- as the author admits repeatedly, he writes his reviews based on a single visit. So it's not for cooks, it's not for people who like travelogues, and it certainly isn't for people who want to go off and explore the Texas BBQ scene on their own - since there's scant details other than the names of the places and the reviews are so thin.
I should mention that there's a section at the back of the book that profiles the "pitmasters" featured in the narrative. This seems like a curious editorial choice - why not include their stories (scant as they are) inline with the text? And why list the components of their rubs without listing the recipe or ratios (especially since most rubs are salt, pepper, and 1 or 2 other things, this seems important).
Finally, I have to remark that there's a strong revulsion factor here. I'm a good sized American male and I can't imagine eating what the author claims to have eaten in a single day, no matter how much I liked it (or how much time I put into cooking it, for that matter). This is back to the checklist nature of the book: I went here, I ate this. I knew I shouldn't eat more, but somehow I managed. And then I managed again. Either he's leaving out the treadmill he kept in the back of his Audi or the vast amounts of laxatives he was downing at every turn. Or he's dead now. Those are the only possible explanations. Nothing has made me want to eat barbecue LESS than reading this book.