Madagascar, now the Malagasy Republic, lies in the Indian Ocean across the Mozambique Channel from southeast Africa. To this place, Massachusetts-born Arthur Stratton came and conquered, not by the sword but by the pen. His chronicle of Madagascar past and present is as much the revelation of the man as of the island. An ardent Francophile, Mr. Stratton seems himself to possess many of the qualities he admires. He writes a rich prose of sensibility and point; he is ready to assert individual preferences and tastes whether of delight or disdain; he is quick to make associations and assessments. Above all, it is a connoisseur of human character, event and interchange that he predominates as he holds to the light the objets d'art which he has discovered in his, sojourn. He writes of the intricacies of the vanilla industry with amused understanding for the ways of men; he summons up the one-hundred and three year reign of the Merino dynasty with equal zest and perception. He pays respects to Madagascar's heroes, mostly French; acutely assesses the presence francaise, and in his history of the dealings of French with natives reveals the French colonial process at work in a fascinating way. Madagascar achieved its independence from France when in 1958 General is Gaulle ""Liberated France from the French empire.