France, seeking self-sufficiency in oil and petroleum products, is building a 24-inch, 420-mile pipeline from her Sahara oilfields to the port of Bougie. Trans-Mediterranean pipelines and similar spectacular feats are also under study. These and scores of other commercial and technical projects planned by numerous Western countries have been delayed and in some cases prevented by the spasmodic violence that has accompanied nationalism's ascendancy in Africa. Jane Nickerson divides her history of North Africa into four periods: pre-Roman (before the destruction of Carthage), Roman-Byzantine, Moslem, and modern (dating from 1830). Her analysis proceeds from area to area, tracing the problems of Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, once known collectively as the Barbary States. While giving France her due and cautioning nationalists that abrupt severance of all ties with France would be detrimental to North Africa, the author plainly poses the issues -- strategic, economic, political and moral -- that account for the present troubled state of affairs. The author contributes the apt reminder that ""Good relations with the newly independent Moslem countries of the Maghreb (Moslem term for the area) are vital to European self-defense -- and to the U.S. as the guarantor of European security"". Timely, informed and well done.