Clifford, who has lived in Sierra Leone and is the author of three previous Land and People volumes, packs an astonishing amount of background into this series format, yet, as a vehicle for introducing this relatively little-known nation, that format's weaknesses become strikingly obvious. To begin with, Clifford makes only a minimal gesture towards stimulating interest in the culture and people before launching into a rundown on the major regions and industries; a one paragraph mention of the dance is the only discussion of the arts and an introduction to the native peoples and their traditional secret societies is deferred until a late chapter. Further, it is questionable whether a detailed list of administrative districts, subdistricts and towns (in a country only as large as South Carolina) is really necessary at this level. And the lengthy, intricate recapitulation of party politics in the pre and post independence eras is largely meaningless until one reads the following chapter on class and political tensions between the Creoles (mostly English-speaking descendants of former slaves who were settled in Freetown by the British) and the indigenous tribes. The complete picture is here -- of a nation with a highly unusual past in some ways parallel to that of Liberia -- and with an uncertain economic future -- but its awkwardly categorized assemblage discourages the formation of an intelligent overview while serving students who merely need to fill in the blanks of a school report outline.