I have written many reviews of books for this site, and I have developed a feel for the spirit of a book, I believe I can often tell if I will like a book or not just by holding it. This may seem a strange claim but in this case it was true, I felt that this book was good as soon as I held it and I still love. There is no doubt that it is a lovely book, well composed and intelligently thought out, the authors clarity and deep understanding resonate throughout the book.
Although the book is aimed at undergraduates, and undoubtedly my joy of it is partially a result of what I already know and the pleasure of seeing science well explained, I would expect that it would be accessible to anybody seriously trying to understand, providing they have some basic biological knowledge.
The book is excellently illustrated with numerous B/W illustrations often offering for comparison the same structure from of 4 or 5 different vertebrate groups. Reading through the headings given below of the 30 chapters will give a good idea of the scope of the book. Aside form the central text there is an appendix on anatomical preparations, and a glossary, while I personally appreciated that the references are all collected at the back of the book.
Chapter Headings:-1)The Nature of Vertebrate Morphology; 2)Nature, Origin, and classification of Vertebrates; 3)Fishes; 4)Tetrapods; 5)Early Development; 6)Integumant and its Derivatives; 7)Teeth; 8)Head Skeleton; 9)Body Skeleton; 10)Muscles and Electric Organs; 11)Coelom and Mesentries; 12)Digestive System; 13)Respiratory System and Gas Bladder; 14)Cirulatory System; 15)Excretory System and Osmoregulation; 16)Reproductive System and Urogenital Ducts; 17)Nervous System: Spinal Cord, and Peripheral Nerves; 18)Nervous System: Brain; 19)Sense Organs; 20)Endocrine Glands; 21)Structural Elements of the Body; 22)Mechanics of Support and Movement; 23)Form Function and Body Size; 24)Running and Jumping; 25)Digging, and Crawling without Appendages; 26)Climbing; 27)Swimming and Diving; 28)Flying and Gliding; 29)Energetics and Locomotion; 30)Feeding.