I shouldn't feel constrained to point out that argumentum ad hominem is a material fallacy of presumption, that unfavorable criticism is not the concomitant of ignorance or opacity. I doubt anyone is deceived that "Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory" is intended as other than a college textbook. The question is whether it succeeds. In my opinion it does not. In my opinion, it fails to come to grips with--and is curiously oblivious of--the body of music it purports to explain. In my opinion, it perpetuates, in a patronizing manner, a number of logical errors, misconceptions, and abuses of terminology. (For a "technical" work it is fairly lightweight, a sort of musical "set theory" Cliff Notes. Don't let this circumstance encourage you.)
This is simply the best introduction to musical set theory in print, and one of the most pedagogically sound theory texts available for any topic. Straus writes exceedingly well, and his organization and pacing are excellent. This is not "watered-down Allen Forte," it is a humane spin on rather abstract musical concepts in language musicians can understand. Forte's and Perle's works are invaluable to the discipline, but their books are almost unreadable. Straus's revised edition expands the repertoire only minimally (more could be done here), but the new exercises (particularly the composition sections) are an excellent addition. An average undergraduate class can make it through the text in a single semester with plenty of time left -- about four or five weeks -- to cover additional repertoire and topics. Dr. O
Re: "One can attempt to learn atonal theory through Allen Forte's book (and many did), but much of his book is theoretical, not practical, causing difficulty in distilling the main topics." I hope the author of this sentence when he writes "many did" means "many did attempt", not "many did learn 'atonal theory through Allen Forte's book'". Certainly that book is "not practical", but neither is it "theoretical" if we insist that music theory must say something about music. The practical alternative to reading Allen Forte's book is not to read a patronizing adulterated version of it such as "Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory", but to read a book that really knows and understands music, to read, for example, George Perle's "Serialism and Atonality" (as a reviewer below recommends).
This book is an excellent primer for the basics of twelve-tone and atonal theory. The book's biggest strength is its pedagogical approach and clarity of difficult concepts. One can attempt to learn atonal theory through Allen Forte's book (and many did), but much of his book is theoretical, not practical, causing difficulty in distilling the main topics. Fortunately Straus's book has been revised, so I hope the repertoire has been expanded a bit, to move beyond the canon composers (Bartok, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, etc). In short, if you're looking to understand the musical materials behind atonal music, this book is a fine place to start.
This is watered-down Allen Forte--something like watered-down near-beer or diluted wine cooler. Read George Perle's "Serialism and Atonality" instead. (I also recommend, by the bye, "Pentatonic Scales for the Jazz Rock Keyboardist" by Jeff Burns.)