As a student of philosophy I can't stress enough the help this book has given me. As my understanding of philosophy increases, it has become more apparent that philosophers and their theories are interconnected in many ways. This is where this book comes in. It is a great reference book that provides a link between philosophers from Ancient Greece to the 20th century. Russell tells you about the life of individual philosophers, religious thought and philsophical schools in great detail, combined with their influences, theories and inspirations. All explained in as little jargon as possible, Russell focuses in on the major contributions that changed western thought.
This is essentially three books compiled into one - Ancient, Catholic and Modern philosophy. In book 1, Russell kicks off with the rise of greek civilisation and its relationship to Mesopotamia and Egypt. Then the Pre-Socratic philosophers, through to Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and finally the Roman Empire. Book 2 takes you through the rise of Christian thought, the forefathers of Theology, the Dark Ages, Mohammedan culture and its philosophy. Book 3 starts at the Renaissance, through the rise of science and upto the Romantic period with Rousseau. Finally it moves through onto the 20th century through Kant, Hegel, Byron, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Marx. Inbetween the different 'books' Russell tells you the relevant connections and changes of philosophy that took place.
Due to the nature and great expanse of philosophy, it is no doubt impossible to fit every detail into this book as Russell explains, and that is why some of the chapters are explained or mentioned to how Russell sees them worthy and their effect or change on western thought. But but he did a great job considering its size and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to students, non-students or anyone interested in philosophy.