Being an amateur astronomer I bought this and the other two volumes recently and I have found it indispensible. Im writing this review keeping solely the tyro's in mind, since one knowledgeable in astronomy would have already had this book. If you are getting interested in astronomy, this is the book to buy - it will surely deepen your interest. Get the book and take a journey through the starts that Burnham offers you in the first few pages.
There are plenty of astronomy books for amatuers with fantastic photos. And sometimes it can be intimidating to know what to buy. Burnham's book is worth every penny (and it doesnt cost much either). It does not contain colorful photos (though contains plenty of b&w photos taken from Lowell/Palomar and other observatories). All 88 constellations are dealt with in detail. First a list of double stars are given in each constellation followed by details of each bright star (including spectrum analysis for some). The book is set in "type-writer" font, so it gives a special feeling of reading some research paper.
A unique feature of this book, which is probably not found in any other astronomy book I have come sofar, is that, it also contains a perspective of a given constellation or star by several different cultures. Most astronomy books stop with Greek and Roman myths - giving a feeling that no other culture was knowledgeable in astronomy. Coming from Indian background, I found it very intriguing that Burnham mentions several stories and myths from Indian folklore (including those that I heard from my granny!). For eg, Varahamihira (c 100 AD?) in his "Brihat Samhita" compares Ursa Major (aka called "Seven Sages") to string of pearls. I was surprised to see Burnham mention this.
One other way I use the book is to first locate some star in the telescope (by lazily moving it around), notice the color, constellation and other characteristics, then look into the book about the details and compare with what you saw. Thats a fun way of learning.
Though more experienced astronomers would observe that some Burnham's values are of older epoch, this should not really bother a beginner. Burnham has certainly packed a wealth of information into three volumes. Again this is a book that will accompany for life on observing the wonders that are up above the sky.