This book is being reviewed quite heavily these days and after reviewing it myself, I can only conclude that this is because of the Publishers' credentials in publishing books on street art. I found that this book fell short on my expectations, even though much of the material was interesting. While it was enlightening to read the brief articles on the history of stencil graffiti, and how stenciling started back to 22,000 in cave paintings, the book quickly lost steam. Many of the artists featured here are well known, however there are many photos featuring industrial uses of stencils which neither are graffiti art, stencil graffiti or art in any type of form. This really detracted form what I assumed the book was featuring. Most of the interesting features were on European artists such as the "bananensprayer" in Cologne, Germany, or Bansky who mixed political satire with his various works. Although many stencil artists are features from all over Europe, and the United States as well as a whole page spread of works from Morocco, I really missed the interviews which should have accompanied these images. While I would not purchase the book for my personal collection, many of the photos showcased the dizzying array of effects which were possible to achieve with something as simple as a stencil.
For someone who is simply interested in seeing full color photos of stencil graffiti then Manco's book would be a great purchase. Manco profiles key artist from around the world as well as touching lightly on stencil and graffiti history (Information which is readily available else where both online and in print.) As an aside, the book does speak briefly on the philosophy of graffiti in the urban landscape.
Sadly the book is little more than a nice looking coffee table book. Artist looking for a guidebook or text that speaks more about the technical aspects of stencil graffiti should look elsewhere. As it is the book is an interesting (though not too informative) slide show of street art.
Still, it's a good purchase for fans of the art form or those who are interested in street pop art.