on 26 December 2001
This really comprises different reviews for different types of reader, and the number of stars I've given is a compromise.
For me, and readers like me, this book is a "must have", implying 5 stars.
I have every edition of the Photography Yearbook since 1972. (The series recently changed its name slightly). They reveal the evolution of photographic themes, aims, styles, and to some extent techniques, over that period. They also provide an expanding collection of stunning photographs, well presented. I knew what to expect from this book, and it didn't disappoint. It has already influenced my next (amateur) photographic project. (The next edition will be a "must have" too).
For this purpose, the book cannot stand alone. It is anyway part of a yearly sequence. And anyone wanting to explore techniques (or places) in more detail may require additional material, such as more focused books - perhaps "landscapes", or "digital photography", or "scenes in Vietnam".
Therefore, for a reader wanting a single book about photography, this is incomplete. At best it probably rates 3 stars - it is enjoyable to look at, it should inspire or provoke thought, and perhaps has enough information for knowledgeable photographers to go further on their own. But a book saying "this explores the nature of photography in year X" really needs the context of other years.
For anyone simply wanting a handbook of photography - forget it! It doesn't aspire to be that, and it certainly isn't that. (But it would be an interesting supplementary gift to accompany a handbook on photography).