Mapplethorpe is arguably the most extraordinary artist working in photography during the 20th century, producing extraordinarily clear, classically composed and conceived sensuous images that are often raw and shocking for the average viewer (specifically his homosexual and bondage images, which generated huge controversy and legal cases when there was an attempt to exhibit them in art museums), yet always beautifully lit, composed and conceived. He makes anything lovely. His portraits (check out Some Women), flower photos and nudes share therefore in an attempt to create perfection in black-and-white. You could put it like this: he attempted to make both a flower and a body, a face and a close-up of genitalia, look like heaven on earth. No one else gets close to achieving this. Remember, for him it was all beautiful. Well worth the price, as long as you're comfortable with much of the explicit subject matter -- male nudity, sometimes extreme.
Those who are buying this book most likely know the work of the author and either want to have a research copy of Mapplethorpe's work handy, or, like me, gain more depth on understanding his work. Either way, this is a MUST HAVE book for anyone into author photography. It served me well as a photography student, as a professional photographer, and should continue to serve me well as a source of inspiration and great reference material in architecture school.