It's a very cold day in Hades indeed when I give a negative review to genealogy book - particularly one on English genealogy. However, this book was simply terrible.
The premise - that interesting insights into surname distributions and migration patterns in England may be determined by reviewing and then comparing different sorts of record types which include surnames - is a fascinating one.
Unfortunately, the author approaches the subject in a chatty, "let's ask the questions and find the answers together" fashion which is almost completely unreadable. This "shared voyage of discovery" methodology makes reading this book a bore. I say this having read several hundred genealogy books, so it's not the subject matter I refer to as boring - it's the writing style.
Another problem with the book is that it is written in "British English" complete with colloqialisms and inside-jokes which were off-putting even to an unreformed Anglophile such as myself.
Besides stylistic issues, this volume does not examine the source materials used for its study with anything approaching enough criticality. Using telephone directory discs for modern surname distributions is a great idea except for all the ex-directory people, the multiple telephones per household slowly becoming more common, and the inherent errors in any phone book.
For the next historic period of surname distribution, the author's review of the Victorian censuses reads like a schoolboy's essay. The problems of thorough coverage regarding the censuses are legion yet they are brushed aside by the author.
This book is a tough read and its premise is not particularly well argued. If you're an English surnames junkie, you'll want to give it a go (tidbits like Fuller, Tucker, and Walker all being regional variations of the same occupation are nice little gems) but as a general genealogy work for hunting English ancestors, this book is to be avoided.