Strictly chronological retellings of history can be a little dull, and reminiscent of the stuffy school classroom. Lindqvist's approach is very different - he mixes up history, theory, travel writing, and his own dreams to create the effect that you are discovering history with him. The conclusions he draws - or rather, invites the reader to draw - are surprising, and should make sobering reading for anyone who mourns the decline of the British (or French, or Spanish) empire. He links the origins of Darwinian theory through to the eugenics of the Third Reich, showing how science can be misused to further misguided and murderous projects. If it has lost any impact in the translation, it isn't missed.