The author spent several years on Gibraltar as a civil servant ""sufficiently senior to survey the scene, but not so senior as to have to hold himself aloof."" He variously surveys its geology and history since the Moors landed on it twelve hundred years ago, its people, its birds sad apes, its government and politics. A North Irishman from Belfast, Stewart offers grudging admiration to Admiral Rooke, who took the rock for Britain, whose rule he considers as ""demonstrably beneficent"" on Gibraltar. The question of sovereignty, is current, the only ""final and lasting choice"" to cede the Rock to Spain. What of the Gibraltarians, that people-mix who consider themselves English despite their pursuit of the Latin street saunter and the piropista? Mr. Stewart does not try to guess their future, only to present their past and present in an informative book.