It is hard to imagine a raison d'etre for this book, for its pretentions to be a field guide, as bruited on the dust cover, are absurd and are surprising coming from the authors, two highly respected ornithologists. What we have instead are species accounts of 800 birds, nine percent of the world total. These very brief accounts include a few sentences of general commentary; very small sections on range and nesting; a range map, color photo, and drawing showing scale; and one or two other small illustrations. This good selection of the world's birds, shown in quality photographs, is fine as far as it goes, but it is too limited to serve as an indentification guide. The traveler needs regional guides, and there are already many good ones for almost all parts of the world. Fun for browsing but otherwise only marginally useful.