I bought this book today, as recommended by my girlfriend who is a Taiwan native. Meeting her in June of 2001, I became interested in learning the Chinese language. This would be my second foray into attempting to learn a foreign languge, as my first one, was back in the spring of 2001 with the Russian language.
As before, I went to bookstores, and looked and studied the different methods available. I found what I thought were some good methods, but thought I would wait until she came to visit me so she could advise me of the best one.
She came here over X-Mas, and we looked at many books in the bookstores. This is the only one she recommended.
Now, I cannot rate it just yet, but I will give it 5 stars based on her recommendation.
She chose it because she felt that it had the best presentation of the traditional and simplified characters, their pinyin pronunciation, and explanatory meanings. And she liked the fonts.
It is so fascinating in trying to learn a new language. It makes you think, about how did you learn your native language in the first place. In my first attempt to learn a new language, the Russian language, I was faced with some soul searching about this. I realized that aural assimilation and imitation, was probably the earliest learning method. Then, the study of the written character and alphabet, and word formation, then grammar.
So, probably no one method can cover it all, but a combination of methods would be comprehensive.
I guess it depends on your agenda and time frame.
I had purchased the "Chinese Now" by Transparent Language, I thought it was a good aural and imitation learning program, but my girlfried didn't like it. One thing I realized, is that it doesn't show you characters, only pinyin equivalent pronunciations.
Anyway sorry for rambling on, but I will let you know more after my studies, on how this particular book works out for me!