Taking the reader from the first days in Jerusalem after Easter to the fall of Rome and the advent of the Dark ages around 600 CE, Chadwick covers nearly 600 years in 250 short, well written pages. Chadwick endeavors to cover a lot of ground, and does so fairly well. Whether discussing the many early Church schisms and heresies - Arius, Pelagious, Donatus, the Monophysites, Origen, and many of the other Church Fathers - such as Agustine of Hippo, Ireneaus, Justin Martyr, Jerome, Clement and the early popes, you will be quickly but effectively introduced to many of the characters, issues and events that shaped the development of the Church.
Chadwick also dives into the history of the liturgy, the development of the structure, the arts and the music of the early church, and provides a balanced view of the challenges faced during these formative years. Focusing on the politics as well as the practical, Chadwick will provide the reader with a view that promotes the traditions of the church to present day - such as the episcopacy, with challenges as the "real" development of the Bishop of Rome becoming first among equals and then the Pope derived more from politics than theology. A good read, a quick read, and a good basic introduction to a 2000 year old institution.