California Bungalows of the Twenties is one of a series of reproductions published by Dover, of house plans. These books are actually exact reprints of original plan books from the turn of the century (1880-1925, roughly). Dover adds little or no modern explanations, just presenting the catalog as it was. So when one looks to review these books, one isn't really judging the modern-day publisher, or editing, or writing. The only modern element is the accuracy of reproduction- in some cases, if pages in the originals that Dover found are damaged or torn, that page is reproduced in the original with the tear, smudge, blot, or hole showing. So to judge the books, one has to compare each one to others of its kind, and then to decide whether the material in it is thorough and complete according to the standards of its time. Since there are several dozen of these catalogs published by Dover, we have the basis for such a comparison.
"California Bungalows" was originally titles "Wilson's California Bungalow." The book starts with a description of what all stock plans include, how much it costs to get duplicates, etc. There's not much about the philosophy of the architect, as in some books. (For example, Radford's Artistic Bungalows says quite a lot about how they went to great lengths to hire architects experienced in the design of small-and-medium sized houses, and about how costs can or cannot be estimated in advance, and so on. This book doesn't have that.) On the other hand, with each individual house, there is description of some of the features of the house, ones that wouldn't necessarily be visible right away, such as that a mantel is made of brick, or the dining room built-in buffet has glass doors and a plate mirror. That's a nice touch. Each description has an estimate of what it would cost to build the house.
The illustrations of each house vary widely - some are photos of finished houses, some are detailed drawings/paintings, and some are just sketches/line drawings. So one doesn't get the same level of information about the appearance of every house. Some of the illustrations are face-on, meaning we see only the front of the house, and can only imagine the sides from the floor plans. On the other hand, for many of the houses, a second illustration is included, of at least one room of the interior. Fully-furnished living rooms are shown; or an illustration of a "typical bathroom" showing what types of fixtures are expected; there's a full-page illustration of "Wilson's Buffet Kitchen" with cut-away view of the cabinets, and complete with a maid in an apron working at the stove. There are several pages showing what styles of dining room buffets, or sideboards, are available, and a section showing doors and locksets you can actually order.
Almost all the floor plans are large and readable, although a few are quite cluttered; with every closet described as broom closet or linen closet, the lettering outstretches the space available. There's also a disconcerting habit, at least to my modern eyes, of referring to the inside chimney as a "thimble" - maybe that was a contemporary usage, but I can't recall seeing it in any other catalog.
In sum: good plans, lots of details on interiors, good ideas on how such houses were furnished; poorer aspect is that some houses are presented only with a sketch. Overall, a good book, one that can give a beginner a good introduction to plan books and to the lifestyles of the period. And the price is great for what you get.