The prolific Asimov cuts another notch in his smoking keyboard by collaborating with space-specialist White--this time to summarize ten millennia of human expansion and achievements and add a few worn words of wisdom for the difficult times ahead. Considering the scope of their project, which looks both ways at the problematic course of human progress, the authors have their work cut out for them, but they manage to hack and hew the past into a rough shape, encompassing the birth of civilization together with some of its subsequent highs and lows. For the early millennia the focus falls on the Middle East, with some slight attention given to developments in China and the Indian subcontinent. This pattern, once established, remains constant until recent changes in Europe and North America enter the picture in the current millennium; contributions from Africa--with the exceptions of Egypt and ancient Carthage--and South America are almost completely ignored, giving the historical outline a distinct ethnocentric bias. Advancements in agriculture, commerce, writing, and technology are duly noted, but the dominant features at every turn are the innumerable paths of conquest throughout recorded history, from 3000 B.C. to modern times. The effort to demonstrate the futility of empire-building and the persistent citation of population figures provide links to a scenario for the future, in which a decline in birth rates, pursuit of renewable energy resources, and the choice of world trade over world war are viewed as essential for survival of our species--at least until colonization of the solar system becomes possible as a means for humanity to find more breathing room. The familiar "greatest hits" approach to history, with little that's new for the frontiers of the future either. Painless and pointless, to the extent that even Asimov fans should have second thoughts.