Certainly the gold standard when it comes to big, impressive books on the American musical.
Huge. 352 oversized pages, 6 and a half pounds, with gynorumous photos that can't be found anywhere other than historical archives. As might be expected, there are terrific illustrations of sets, lights, costumes, props, and stars. But I cannot believe the quality and number of shots of rehearsal processes and of choreography. Harder stuff to capture in still photography.
Gottfried's text is expansive and intermittently expert, providing historical overview, profiles of the major creators, the excitement of performance, and, finally, just what is "Broadway" and what does it feel like? He shoots from the heart. Perhaps the most wondrous and heralded part of this book are the little photos sprinkled through the index of shows that closed out of town or that opened and were boffo flops.
He also shoots from the hip. His text is also opinionated, a bit bitchy, and cavalier. This is sometime jarring.
All in all, I'd call this Design 10, Editorial Savvy 10, Text 7.