I'm reluctant to praise the memory of James Beard for producing this excellent cookbook, as it is well known that he employed ghost writers and assistants, including Marian Cunningham and Barbara Kafka, who have since gained promenance in their own right as cookbook authors. Even such a Beard fan as Jeremiah Tower states that there may be very few of his books which he actually wrote himself. That being said, let me state that this is an excellent general purpose cookbook which should be on every American cook's shelf even in preference to some newer, trendier titles.
There are two things which most clearly distinguish this volume. The first is that many of the recipes and supplementary text in this volume are superior to Beard's (sic) presentation of the same recipe in his other titles, even when the other titles specialize in a particular ingredient or method. I find, for example, his chicken recipes much more detailed in the general book than in the volume 'Beard on Birds'. The second reason for having this book is that a very large number of the recipes are relatively simple to prepare using very easily acquired ingredients. There are hunderds of recipes which can be prepared cheaply and, with a little searching, there are hundreds of recipes which can be prepared quickly. James Beard was very 'old school'.
One word of warning is necessary. While Beard is not as spare in his descriptions as Elizabeth David, he is also not as full of details as Julia Child, who basically changed the entire style of American recipe writing, including the style of James Beard to some extent. There are times when Beard does assume some basic cooking knowledge, although there are fewer assumptions here than in lesser volumes.