I bought this book because it was recommended by the University of Maastricht (Netherlands) as a textbook to study for the entrance exam that must be passed for non-lawyers to take their Master's course in European Law. I also recently saw it as part of the library of the Munich Intellectual Property Law institute - a program I am also considering.
This book provides definitive coverage of European law and some community institutions. The index, table of cases and acronym definitions are thorough. The history of the European Union and European institutions is laid out and important paragraphs from numerous European Court decisions are quoted and their implications are analyzed.
It is also incredibly boring to read. No author can save the mind-numbing decisions of the European Court. The convoluted and nearly impenetrable language is almost beyond mortal understanding. However, the analysis is also very dry - and while the cause of objectivity is a noble one, an occasional subjective opinion can make a book far more readable. The authors also occasionally refer to cases before explaining them - giving the impression that the book was, at least partially, compiled from previously written articles. This is a bit irritating - particularly in a 3rd edition, you would think that sort of thing would have been filtered out in the previous two versions.
Despite its flaws, this book is useful as a reference and has value for anyone making a serious study of European Law. I would not recommend trying to read it cover-to-cover. How about taking a stand in the next edition? Spice things up a little. In Hartley's, European Union Law in a Global Context, the author makes his point of view known throughout the book, and while the reader may not always agree - it makes the material ever so much more interesting. It would be nice to see something similar from Craig and De Burca, particularly since this book appears to be considered definitive by at least 2 European academic institutions.