As the author candidly states in his Preface, ""The aim of this modest volume is to give a summary account, yet one which is as accurate and up-to-date as possible, of the political vicissitudes of the Arab people from their beginnings up to the present day."" There is a brief first chapter on ""The Pre-Islamic Arabs"" and a concluding one which scans the major events between the 18th century and the Algerian crisis of last year, but the bulk of the book is devoted, properly enough, to the seven centuries of greatness which began with the hegira and ended in the drowsy decadence of the Persian and Ottoman empires. To quote again from the preface: ""although I had limited myself to...an attempt to condense the enormous amount of material...there are still too many names and dates which are unfamiliar to the average reader, too many histories of dynasties, and too little concerning economic and social facts."" The reasons for this are to be sought in the subject itself, ""large areas of which are still terra incognita, only now being explored."" No one can deny that the author has done his best to provide us with ""a necessary frame."" The translation, by Salvatore Attanasio, is lucid enough.