Lost kingdoms are rarely rebuilt upon their own ruins. Most often they rise again only on the throne of the imagination."" Thus M. Balandier who notes the survival ""in parody form"" of the once great kingdom of the Kongo. He follows its fortunes from the sixteenth century, when the expansion of Christianity, trade (""above all the slave trade""), the collision of different and at times antagonistic civilizations ""formed a single complex--one which resembles a crude and exaggerated outline of the one which modern colonization was to create three centuries later,"" to the eighteenth, since which time ""the history of the Kongo has slowly cooled until it has become a mere parody of itself played in the setting of Portuguese colonization."" Depending largely on Pigafetta's Historia do Reino do Congo, he describes the fabric of life, the socio-economic and political aspects, education, language and the arts, religion. M. Balandier ponders whether the difficulties of the modern state are related to the survival of ancient political dispositions and traditions, asserts that history ""makes it possible to assess sociological and cultural conservatism, to get a clearer idea of the many radical changes."" He does not extend his study to comparisons, analyses. A special book.