Two bona fide ragtime experts have perpetrated an obvious labor of love. Their solid, if rather colorless, musicological history of the piano-rag form is exuberantly overshadowed by their shameless display of intimacy with a vast number of composers and compositions. Observations on each phase in ragtime's development--pioneer work, Classic Joplin, the pre-WW 1 popular explosion, ""advanced"" ragtime, and later, personalized variations from the Twenties up through the Seventies revival--are followed by thumbnail biographies of each period's prime talents and brief appreciations of those talents' best work. Nearly 50 composers are highlighted (another 80 are listed and dated in an appendix), and hundreds of rags receive individual attention--some with just the bare data (publication date, information on one or two available recordings, a shorthand description of the rag's overall structure), most with a paragraph of technically specific analysis and admiration. Two quibbles: the authors do not explain their idiosyncratic choices of recommended recordings; the home pianist is not directed to available sheet music. Casual students and lovers of ragtime can probably get along nicely with the chapters in the better American-music surveys; aficionados will have to have this syncopated insider salute to put alongside their copies of Blesh & Janis' landmark volume, They All Played Ragtime.