A book of such depth and with so much information packed into such little space deserves no less than five stars-unless the presentation is so poor that reading becomes a chore!
Make no mistake: this is a superb textbook. You get exactly what the title says: a comprehensive guide to principles of psychology, perception, semiotics, design, visualization-you name it. If there is an issue in the world that concerns map design, chances are excellent that you will find it in this book. The author is an expert in the field and it shows. If you think you can get beyond the usability problems, by all means buy this book and it will keep you thinking for a very long time.
Yet, for a book that has 'design' in its sub-title, clearly the design of the book itself was done with little consideration for the reader. The type is small, needs a better font and is cluttered with references, (text in parentheses) and "quoted phrases". It doesn't help that the text is poorly justified resulting in a ridiculous amount of hyphenation. You don't have to really read the whole book to see what I mean-just look at the table of contents. Does that look like a book designed by someone who cares about psychology, design, perception and visual presentation? There isn't even any space to take notes.
If you are used to reading scientific papers, you won't have much trouble because their presentation is usually far worse. Otherwise, be prepared for a rough ride.