I'm about 2/3 the way through How to Speak Dog. I'm loving it. It gives really detailed, specific explanations about all the little nuances of dog communcation, from vocalizations to body postures to tail positions and so on. There are so many little things my dog does that I never even really paid attention to until I saw them described and "translated" in this book. I thought I had read a lot about dog behavior before, but this gets into more depth with communcation behaviors. For instance, I didn't realize that tail wagging is a strictly communicative behavior - ie, if you feed your dog, he'll wag his tail to show pleasure or gratitude, but if he finds food in an empty room, he won't wag his tail without an audience. There's also a good deal of fascinating stuff about the co-evolution of dogs and humans.
Out of curiosity, what did the "scathing" reviews have to say (if you can recall)?