Eleanor Noss Whitney has not only succeeded in writing a concise, understandable, and comprehensive Mah Jong handbook, she has elegantly and expertly distilled into a mere 176 pages the essential tools and strategies to achieve true mastery of this ancient and wonderful game.
Whitney's handbook is the only book that most players will ever need to become a knowledgeable, confident and winning Mah Jong player. The basics of play, including seating, dealer selection, wall-building, tile-dealing and play are laid out clearly with helpful examples and good illustrations. The scoring of Mah Jong is explained with numerous carefully-constructed examples, with helpful diagrams of each tile scenario for good visual reference.
The strategy of the game is brilliantly explained in Part III, again with numerous examples that gradually train beginning players how to quickly make strategic decisions to enhance their play. As Whitney explains, Mah Jong is a game governed by sheer luck of the draw, yet the "skillful player is actually one who knows how to adapt to his luck." Her extensive explanations and examples of both "offensive" and "defensive" strategies are the soul of the book, and I, for one, was amazed how quickly my comphrehension of the game improved after having read the entire chapter.
It is true that the focus of the book is primarily on the Japanese and American rules and variations, but Chinese equivalent terms are included in an extensive Glossary-Index. For the vast majority of players, this will not be a serious problem.
If you buy one book on Mah Jong, it should be this one.