Usually, if I review a book it's a non-competing book like Steven Pressfield's incredible book about artists' motivation, The War of Art. But I'm not about to sit on self interest when I find a book this good. Here's the executive summary: If you shoot with Canon cameras and often use their flash, and often find yourself cursing at the randomness of the results; you'll save yourself time, money, aggravation and, perhaps, even clients if you just buy (and read) this book.
This is not a fluffy picture book. It's not an overview. It's an encyclopedic and detailed study of what makes your Canon camera and flash work together for best results. But beyond the rigorous exploration of things electronic flashy it's a pretty good primer about lighting with small lights in general.
The photos are not "high art," they are working tools that visually describe the process and the results. For one lighting exercise there may be a dozen very well captioned photos that take you along for the ride and show you step by step what he's talking about in the text.
There are no Nikon, Pentax, Sony or Olympus flashes covered in the book. But even for non-Canon users there's a plethora of good information about lighting up the world with small flashes.
The book is weighty at over 300 pages and Mr. Arena's writing style is terse and choppy. Lot's of sidebars and little boxes with "tips" and "nerd words". That's good when you want to dig in and learn a section at a time. If you want to curl up with a good book and get into a cohesive narrative you're barking up the wrong tree.
I just had a moment of Satori! What Mr. Arena has done is to write the ultimate owner's manual. The owner's manual we all wish we had gotten with our flash gear (and specifically our Canon flash gear) when we bought the stuff. This book is maniacally detailed and well researched. It's dense and packed with examples and information.
Disclosure and final word: Don Giannatti (lighting genius) told me about this book. I asked for a review copy. The publisher sent me one. Free of charge. After reading the book over two days I can honestly say that if I didn't get to keep the book (which I do) I would run right out and buy it. I learned ten new things about the Canon flashes and the way they work with different Canon cameras. And everything I learned is cogent to my work.