Robert Hand wrote this book back in the 1970s. At that time, composite charts were new to America and to most of the Western world. Although John Townley is the person who is actually credited with bringing the technique to our shores, both Townley and Hand (who have also written the introductions for each other's groundbreaking texts) have pretty much structured the foundation of our contemporary knowledge on the subject. But there are differences to be noted in Hand and Townley's approach.
The most important distinction for me is that Hand describes a pretty unique method of using what's known as the "150 degree rule" for estimating composite midpoints for planets that are approaching a perfect opposition. Although many astrologers use the "150 degree rule" to correct errors that frequently arise in computer generated charts in which calculations yield such impossibilities as say Mercury and Venus oppositions, Hand alone tackles this problem for the other remaining personal planets that can appear as oppositions when you might want to consider them conjunctions. Hand suggests "if the planets in the two natal charts are more than 150 degrees apart, you should use both midpoints" (p 32) in your analysis. The reason for this is that "the two midpoints are nearly equal in strength." (12) This means you will treat the two planets more like an axis than a specific point, which is similar to the way in which we interpret the moon's nodes. This technique, which Hand explores with far greater depth than I can in this review, appears to be unique to Robert Hand. He uses it in his chart interpretations for the cases of Fred and Mary, and Freud and Jung, which are located in the chapter entitled "Case Studies." Townley and other astrologers that I've read do not seem to employ this technique in their calculations for planets that come after Mercury and Venus, or for opposing Suns and Moons. For this reason, I would suggest this book as an important addition to your astrology library, because it contains a few pieces of information that is not as widely quoted as his more commonly known interpretations.
I have practiced astrology for over 25 years, and read Hand for the first time, in 1981. I have experimented with many of his concepts and find his synopsis of configurations to be quite insightful and valid. Some math skills will be needed, if you erect a chart by hand. Otherwise, astrology software may be useful for beginners who do not want to erect a chart manually. Many programs are free of charge and can be downloaded at such sites as zdnet or tucows; just type "astrology" in their search engines.
Although many excerpts from Hand's book have been quoted on various astrology websites, this fact does not appreciably detract from the overall usefulness of this book. However, it is worth noting that Hand states in his introduction to John Townley's revised edition of "The Composite Chart" (which was first printed in 1974, revised, and again published in 2000) that he changed his initial method of computing composite house cusps by location to the method that John Townley uses in his newly revised book; which is the midpoint composite house method. Taking that in stride, I think you'll be happy to own this book because not only was it one of the founding texts on the subject but its cookbook interpretations are very useful to beginners. Both Townley and Hand's explanations work well together, and they both offer their own unique depth and clarity on the topic of composite charts. You may be able to find many quotes from both Townley and Hand's texts on astrology websites, but sometimes it's nice to have the book too.