Prof. Firestein is a good teacher, and I would definitely take this class with him. He is often funny and makes most concepts fairly clear, so class usually went by pretty quickly. During the semester there were a couple of topics that Prof. Firestein didn't seem so comfortable with, so he didn't do such a great job with those (I think they are usually taught by a different teacher), but other than that he was really very good. The textbook was difficult to read and he knew it, so he didn't really expect us to use it very much. Even though he didn't have official office hours, he was always willing to stay after class and answer questions. The recitation part of this class (reading primary papers) was a little annoying, but not too bad depending on your TA.
Pretty average. 3 "midterms," 1 of which is dropped and the final which is based on primary papers you get after the 3rd midterm. You don't need to rememeber anything from throughout the semester for the final. The tests required a fair amount of memorization and were often pretty specific, but all in all, it wasn't too much work.