There was one particularly comic moment that I enjoyed. Throughout the book, Taruskin adopts the historian's neutrality, even though he often quotes strong opinions from others, critics and composers, as important historical evidence. These quotes are, of course, footnoted. But on one occasion, when he quotes a particularly scathing review of the opera by John Adams, The Death of Klinghoffer, accusing the composer of "moral blankness and opportunism", if one turns to the footnote one finds that the critic in question is none other than Richard Taruskin. Mind you, he does say that the review was "possibly overwrought". Heh!
There is really only one hobbyhorse that I have my doubts about. Taruskin has long been known for making the counterintuitive point that the revival of early music and its austere mode of performance ("no vibrato!") was in fact just one manifestation of modernism. We like early music and we like it performed that way because it fits our taste. Not to detract from the truth of that, but I think he takes it too far when he says that the rigid, metronomic tempos typical of some manifestations of the early music movement (and of music by, among others, Stravinsky and other moderns) is specifically a modernist quirk. I think that most music in most times and places has been composed and played in a range of rhythmic modes. Some of these are fluid and with a lot of rubato, while others are motoric and have a real groove. I think this was as true in 1500 as it was in 1700 as it was in 1900. Sure, there are historic trends, but music with rhythmic precision and drive was not a discovery of the modernists.