I must admit that for the longest time, my attention and focus, while studying Michelangelo, has been towards the Sistine Chapel. Most of the books I own on him devote numerous text and space to the ceiling, and a moderate take on the Last Judgement. It's not that I didn't appreciate the wall, or regard it as a masterpiece--truthfully, when I saw it in person, it floored me--I just didn't pay very much attention to it.
Boy, was I missing out. After finishing the companion book, Sistine Chapel: A Glorious Restoration, I decided I should pick this one up as well (might as well complete the picture, so to speak).
First of all, this book does not disappoint. The pictures are sumptuous and provide phenomenal detail. The Last Judgement is a very "busy" painting, with Michelangelo including approximately 400 figures, so it is easy to feel overwhelmed. This book systematically breaks the painting down into its various sections, detailing the thoughts (spiritual and secular) behind the depictions, bringing the fresco into focus.
The book also describes the painstaking restoration the wall went through and its glorious results.
After reading this book, I have a renewed vision and appreciation for this work. When I saw it in Rome, the wall stunned, scared and thrilled me all at the same time; this book brought that all back. Simply put, I love this book and consider it to be an important piece to my collection.