This is a terrific book. I bought this as a teenager and read it cover to cover. The book was written in the late 1980's, so it is a bit dated. However, it is great reading for students of baseball. The book is written in segments starting with the early pioneers of the game. The contributors do an especially good job of explaining the rule changes and evolution of the game. Even the dimensions changed over time. For example, the pitchers mound was originally much closer to home plate than it is now.
The book contains easy-to-follow text and a multitude of pictures. There are short bios on the most significant players such as Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, etc. There is a general overview of the significant changes of each decade. For example, there is explanation of the effect World War II had on the game in the 1940's or free agency in the 1970's. The book contains a good amount of statistics, but it reads like a narrative. They are introduced in the context of the book rather than boring lists.
The colorful personalities of the players shine through. Players like Dizzy Dean or Satchel Paige can't be reduced to statistics. The personalities of players and teams (like the "Gas House Gang" St. Louis Cardinals of the 1930's) can be understood by the reader. There is a strong focus on pennant races and the post season in the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I grew up in the 1980's and loved to watch Mike Schmidt, Jim Rice, Steve Carlton, George Brett, Doc Gooden, Robin Yount, Dale Murphy, Eddie Murray, Ozzie Smith, and countless others. This book will appeal mostly to an older audience, but I loved reading about baseball history as a kid and was fascinated by stories of older legends such as Walter Johnson, Tris Speaker, Mickey Cochrane, Hank Greenberg, Christy Matthewson.
I thought a particular strong point of the book was the detailed examination of the early years of baseball. The evolution of the game, the formation of the National League and American League, and the transition from the small-ball era of bunting and stolen bases to the power hitting live-ball era were clearly explained. The authors explain factors that determine a player's greatness. For example, Lefty Grove was a dominating pitcher in an era where hitters dominated baseball. His numbers were dramatically better than the average pitcher of the day and the author's make the successful case of him being one of the greatest pitchers who ever lived. This type of astute analysis is present in the text.
Die-hard baseball fans will love the organized chronicling of the sport. More casual fans will love the great pictures, illustrations, and accesible text. There are examples of players shown in advertising of the era. This is priceless and helps the reader identify with the unique history each player experienced. The book has good coverage of the Negro League legends as well. There are great photos of Josh Gibson, Martin DiHigo, and Cool Papa Bell. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.