Let me be the first to say I am a novice when it comes to art history or even art appreciation. In all honesty, I could care less about Japanese art but this book captivated me from the first peek. I've spent about an hour perusing the book because I find it so interesting.
The author, a westerner, explains the sketches and their significance in a couple of sentences. I told someone today that I would consider it a living book.
Of interesting note, the author writes an essay in the beginning of the book,
My own reaction has certainly been subjective, especially since the airplane in which I was carrying the completed manuscript for this book from America to the publishers in Japan crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Fortunately, all passengers and crew members were saved, but my manuscript and the make-up pages illustrating it were lost, and that was a grievous blow.
The first edition was printed in 1958... before computers. Michener wrote the entire thing again. From scratch. He was intimately familiar with Hokusai.
*Of interesting note, the Wikipedia bio on Michener does not mention this book. However, his third wife is mentioned and it is to her the book is dedicated.