Terry Foster's "Pale Ale" is to be commended for it's excellent treatment of this historical style of beer, and it can be recommended both to the style's homebrewers and enthusiasts.
Foster writes about the history of pale ale with verve. This section shines among all the others. I know of no source that is more informative nor more engrossing on the subject of the history of this beer, or even english beer in general (though I have not read any other books in this series.) Foster not only explains the evolution of pale ale in isolation, but also its relationship with other beers that have been its commercial rivals through out history.
Foster is a clear advocate of the British Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and shows his CAMRA biases. But this bias never taints a candid discussion of Pale Ale as discovered both in England and the U.S. Indeed, as an American with no experience with Real Ale, I quite enjoyed his discussion of Real Ale: while reading, I more than once considered how to brew and (especially) to serve a bitter in the "real" way--a subject which he discusses in some detail. In addition, Foster is an open advocate of innovation--never does he scold the brewer who wants to innovate on this classic style, though he does warn against calling serious deviations "Pale Ales", something he considers both harmful and misleading.
Homebrewers with a great deal of experience with pale ales will not find themselves learning a great deal that's new about pale ale brewing. The book is not intended for those with no experience brewing: if you are trying to learn to brew for the first time, get Charlie Papzian's "Complete Joy of Homebrewing" or John J. Palmer's "How to Brew". In general, I found the chapter on Brewing Pale Ales to be pretty standard. This book won't tell you anything about making a pale ale if you've already absorbed Ray Daniel's "Designing Great Beer." On the other hand, those with a few but not many homebrews to their credit and with a zeal for developing their own recipes will likely find themselves inspired with new ideas after reading this book. (However, I would really recommend Designing Great Beer first.)
The book contains recipes, one for each sub-style in the pale ale family, but the book emphasizes recipe creation over delivering recipes. None of the recipes are purported "clones." All the recipes have both extract and all-grain versions. I haven't tried the recipes but all look as though they will produce good pale ales. However, the recipes section of the book is short, a fact for which this reviewer was grateful, but those seeking a tomb of recipes should look elsewhere.
This is a very well done book on beer. Regarding the history of pale ale and it's serving, it surpasses all other works I know. On the other topics it covers, it rivals the competition as far as pale ale is concerned. Why not five stars? Well, I feel that the section on brewing pale ale could have been considerably more probing. That chapter didn't go beyond Daniel's Designing Great Beers and I felt as though that should have been a possibility, indeed a reality, in a book dedicated to Pale Ale.