This review of Essential SharePoint 2010 is long overdue (the book came out at the end of August 2010), but since its release I've been developing a different perspective on SharePoint as a whole, and am excited to be able to review it now through that lens.
The authors are Scott Jamison, Susan Hanley, and Mauro Cardarelli (this year with additional content from Chris Bortlik and Donal Conlon). I was a big fan of their Essential SharePoint 2007, and recommended it to my colleagues and clients as a book that really took a business approach to the product and was targeted to the IT Professional, Project Manager, and Business Analyst rather than to developers or server administrators. The 2010 version continues with that point of view. In the authors' own words: "Most books are designed to address the "how" behind SharePoint... this book complements the typical SharePoint book with some of the "what" and "why" of SharePoint." The book's focus on on planning and governance, including such tools as tables of "Mapping of SharePoint Features to General Business Objectives" and "Suggested SharePoint [Success] Metrics," are extremely useful for an IT Director, project leader, or anyone taking a consultative role on a SharePoint implementation.
Now I am finding that this is one of the few books on the market, if not the only one, that supports a mature and optimized SharePoint implementation as much as a planfully well-founded one. Part II comprises nearly 200 pages on implementing SharePoint "to its fullest potential." Its sections on Search, Business Process, Business Intelligence, and Composites & Applications relate directly to these competencies in the SharePoint Maturity Model. A SharePoint implentation owner could potentially improve his or her implementation's SharePoint Maturity several levels by reading and applying the informaton here - for example, the section on Search could take an implementation all the way through the 300 level (without any custom development).
In addition to the planning and foundational concepts, there is a good amount of beginner-to-intermediate-level how-to and hands-on which can really empower the business user - for example, how to design a workflow in Visio 2010 that can be imported into SharePoint.
To sum up, it's the perfect book for all those folks in the SharePoint community who DON'T identify themselves as developers or administrators - and it should be required reading for the folks who do!