The first half of the book is an overview of Dali's life and explores his movements and work during perhaps the most tumultuous and turbulent century in human history.
The second half of the book uses plates of Dali's most famous works and analyses them. You begin to form a real understanding of the mind of the genius and it is interesting to piece together the themes, mythology and back story of the paintings displayed. There is much more to Dali's life and work than this volume can fully explore. But there is also enough here to pique the interest of a Dali novice.
But more than anything else, what you get with Dali is an exploration of the meaning of life, symbolism, the surreal, science, iconography, landscape, portraits, self portraits, shadow, religion, beauty, mystery, shape,form, ants, dripping clocks, William Tell, elephants on stilts, echoes of Vermeer, hallucinogenic visions, Gala, and much more besides. Quite clearly, his view of the universe and the world around us was quite different to our own.
Was he insane? Perhaps. But if indeed he was, then it was an insane counter-balance of beauty to that political insanity of ugliness casting its long shadow across the Europe of the 20th century in the form of Lenin and Hitler, two figures used by Dali in some of his work.
Dali was also quick to point out his use of everyday objects such as the classic glass Coca-Cola bottle in The Poetry of America a few decades before the Pop Art of Warhol in the Sixties. And in the same painting, he alludes to the political and social strife that was to trouble the States in his dripping Africa symbol.
The fact that the author knew his subject personally only adds to the accessibility of the book.