This book is a guide to the development of tranquil abiding/meditative quiescence/samatha as taught in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. There is really nothing new here that cannot be found in standard lamrim texts, but the subject matter is fleshed out somewhat in a fairly nice fashion. Its main drawback stems from the conception of the book, which is just a reworking of a series of talks the author gave to a group of Westerners at the beginning of a year-long meditation retreat aimed at developing tranquil abiding. As such, some of what it has to say may not apply to the reader. Also, it will not address some of the peculiar problems any reader might encounter if they themselves set out to do such a retreat. Those wishing to develop tranquil abiding themselves will need to do their own retreat under the guidance of a teacher, but perhaps this book could prove useful by giving them the bare outlines of what it is they are to do and why. An added bonus is the gorgeous tangka on the cover.
Shamatha meditation, a Tibetan name for all meditations that settle, focus, and concentrate the mind, is not unique to Buddhism. In fact in many ways part of Buddhism's fresh approach is that it took this particular kind of meditation and in a sense "secularized" it - essentially removing some of the religious symbolism and esoterism that surrounded the development of concentration in India. Shamatha meditation is unique in that it's "contentless" and provides the foundation for all other religious practices.