Antic and Maksimovic, both titled players and experienced coaches, present excellent repertoire recommendations for the French Defense. The book's helpful structure and clear prose make this a real standout among opening guides. For example, they introduce the repertoire with diagrams that use arrows to show the first repertoire move against white's 6 most important variations. After this visually catching, unique introduction, they provide a chapter for each of the major variations:
* King's Indian Attack -- 1. e4 e6 2. d3 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. Ngf3 and now ...b6 to contest the long diagonal and support a queenside initiative
* Exchange Variation -- 4....Bd6 after each of white's typical continuations from 1. e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5
* Advance Variation -- 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 and now ...Bd7, after which black uses the threat of exchanging his bad light-squared bishop to get a good position. Morozevich has played this way, among others.
* Tarrasch Variation -- 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 and now ...Be7, a useful waiting move that seeks to force white to make a commitment that allows black to choose his counterattacking system.
* Steinitz Variation -- 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 and now ...Nc6 to exert maximum pressure against white's center.
* McCutcheon Variation -- 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 and now ...Bb4, a sharp and dynamic continuation.
Each chapter begins with an introduction to the key ideas, then plunges into a thorough and deep analysis of the sub-variations. Throughout the 362 pages the authors provide many novelties for our consideration. Antic and Maksimovic provide plentiful diagrams for the key positions (2 or 3 per page), and finish each sub-variation with a summary of the major ideas that will help black get a dynamic and roughly equal position. Obviously experienced in helping aspiring chess players learn the subtle arts of the game, the authors conclude each chapter with a summary of the key ideas in each variation.
I carefully examined the authors' recommendations against each of the weapons I have used as White against the French, and was impressed with what I saw. As a club player, I'm not qualified to pronounce them sound or unsound, but I have the impression that an opponent following Antic and Maksimovic's repertoire would give me an uncompromising fight. Now that I have skimmed the book, I'm planning to go back and re-read it to make sure I'm well prepared to fight the French when I play 1. e4 as White. The book is definitely a Black repertoire, but the authors provide plenty of ideas for White as well.
Given the depth of this book's analysis, I would characterize its intended audience as advanced club player and up. However, its instructive and clear presentation make it suitable for the intermediate club player who focuses on the main recommendations, and uses its deeper analysis as a reference when reviewing his or her games. Renowned coach Dan Heisman recommends the French Defense to club players who want to learn pawn structure and pawn breaks, and this book would certainly help you play the French knowledgeably.
Note: The publisher provided a review copy of this book to me in exchange for my honest review. My ratings of the publisher's books have ranged from 3 stars to 5 stars.