What might have proved a wearisome task turned out to be a delightful experience, thanks to the author's sense of the dramatic in selection of material, and his highly readable style. His source material, evidenced by the copious bibliography, provides a springboard and documentation for an imaginative sense of telling the stupendous tale of African history. Four books comprise the volume. The first two (spanning the period from Egypt's earliest surmised history to the dark ages following the Vandal invasion, in 600 AD) are fairly short. But with Book III the historian is launched on the bloody and terrible story of Islam, a story involving the fates of men and nations, races and cities. And in the background always, the Sahara looms, monstrous and unconquered. During this era, Northern Africa came into a ""period of self confidence and brilliant achievement"". Book IV marks the emergence from the Middle Ages, and the beginnings of modern times, and is tersely sub-headed, Napoleon to Eisenhower. Conquest -- foreign exploitation- neglect- and World War II bringing the searchlight on to Africa again. A fascinating book, neither historically dry nor a superficial review, written in the Wellsian rather than the Beard's vein.