This book was very helpful on my recent trip to Beijing, but only because I've had a few years of formal Mandarin classes. If you've never taken any Chinese, this book, or any phrasebook for that matter, may not be of much help simply because of the difficulty of the language. Believe me, even after 3 years of Chinese I still had trouble getting cab drivers to understand me!
Even if you've been studying Chinese for a while this phrasebook will be a great resource for a multitude of day to day words and phrases. In fact, I often just read it page to page as sort of an interesting textbook. I love that it includes both the pinyin with tones and the characters side by side. Unfortunately, there are more than a few editing errors with the characters which could cause problems if you're using the book by pointing at phrases. Another issue is that the pronunciations often include the "er" ending on words which is only a Beijing thing, not heard much in the south.
Overall it is a great book that managed to survive being thrown around in my backpack, and now that I'm back home it will be useful as a textbook as there are still MANY words in it I have yet to learn.