In the beginning are the apes and, somewhat confusingly, the emergence of Homo sapiens whose existence might better have been presumed in this episodic presentation of human history -- the history, it must be emphasized, primarily of the classical civilizations of the Mediterranean area. For although note is taken separately of India and China, and summarily of the Western Hemisphere, these civilizations appear as afterthoughts; the reader is not prepared to entertain the idea of independent cultural continuums (which current investigations are uncovering) to say nothing of intercultural connections. Chiefly the book, which is approximately two-thirds maps (excellent ones, by Kenneth Wass) and other visual implementation, can be used as an adjunct to the close study of political developments -- the rise, spread, and decline of peoples and states; it is not sufficient unto itself because causation is little explored while the establishment of colonies, for instance, is followed in great detail. Or one might say that, in the absence of strong themes, the flow of history is impeded by all the currents in it. Fine if you'd visualize the advance of the Assyrian frontier or the relative strength of Athens and Sparta but overwhelming (and unbalanced) as an overview.