This book is a tremendously useful reference tool for newcomers to America. It is almost like two books in one: a how-to guide describing the nuts and bolts of settling into a life in the United States, and a cultural anthropology attempting to explain what it's like to live here, amidst the "native" Americans.
There are two minor downsides to the practical parts of the book. One, they are a little bit dated. Again and again, readers are directed to consult printed matter (newspapers, bulletins, etc.) for further information. The Internet is acknowledged, but its usefulness as a source of information is given short shrift. I'm reluctant to label this as a "fault," but rather an indication of just how much the Internet has transformed our lives in just the few short years since this book was published. No doubt a 7th Edition, if one is in the works, will take care of this minor shortcoming.
The other minor quibble is that, though the book tries to be comprehensive, it does tend to focus on what life is like in our major cities. Life in the suburbs is not as regularly mentioned, and rural life is almost entirely overlooked. There is a logic to this, insofar as new immigrants traditionally come to the cities first, and only later (if at all) branch out to the suburbs. However, this urban focus should be noted by any reader who is intending to make their home in the suburbs, or especially in the countryside.
As for the "what Americans are like" parts . . . the book tackles a variety of vexing political and social issues, trying to make sense of them for the benefit of an outsider. By and large, I think it does a good job of being evenhanded, describing the viewpoints of the various issues from both a liberal and a conservative perspective. The default mode does lean a bit left, though not overtly so.
HOWEVER . . . then there's the book's final chapter, intended to address post-9/11 concerns. Here the book takes a hard-left turn, reading more like something that Noam Chomsky might have written. Thus we have a section on the rise of Christian fundamentalism as a potential threat, while completely downplaying the concurrent (and, in my opinion, exponentially greater) risk posed by militant, fundamentalist Islam. We're told that Americans have become afraid of Muslims, as if this is an entirely unfounded and unwarranted prejudice that just cropped up out of the blue, for no apparent reason -- as opposed to a reaction, justified or not, to the undeniable fact that nearly all terrorist acts against the West are currently being committed by those claiming the name of Allah.
The idea of energy independence is presented as a choice of either despoiling our pristine wilderness areas by drilling for oil (which won't be sufficient anyway, we're told), or embracing wind, solar, hydro, and other "niche" sources of power. The reader is reminded that Americans make up only 4 percent of the world's population but consume 25 percent of its energy, the clear implication being that we're a bunch of selfish wastrels. Not that there's not some truth to that, but there's not even a hint that we use some of this "extra" energy to produce things (such as food, disaster relief, and military power) that we use for the benefit of others around the world, often at no cost to the beneficiaries.
It may seem odd that I've given so much attention to just one chapter out of many, but such is the jarringly negative impression it made on me, at the conclusion of an otherwise laudatory book. I still recommend the rest of the book, with the minor caveats mentioned above; but the final chapter ought to just be torn out and thrown away.