The maps in this book provide an excellent visual history for anyone who has read a plethora of books involving different peoples and locations in Africa. Now one can compare the locations (and times) at which these different events occur!
While acknowledging that the African slave trade (both intra-African & Trans-Saharan) existed long before the Europeans arrived on the scene and accepting the historical accuracy of Berbers and Moriscos such as Ibn Battuta and Leo Africanus as well as of Westerners like Mungo Park and Dr. Livingstone, McEvedy attempts to maintain a neutral position throughout.
The work is not without flaw, for McEvedy could have left out pages 8 - 19 and actually improved the work. More importantly, he fails to give any sources or references. This limits the usefulness of the book's text and indicates that this is just an outline for use with more scholarly texts.
Still, the book provides a decent consideration of the early ethnic groups of Africa from the Afro-Asiatics (Hamito-Semitic), Niger-Congolese ("Negro") and Nilo-Saharans to the Pygmies & San. It also gives a clear picture of the expansion of the Nilo-Saharans toward the west and of the Niger-Congolese (especially the Bantu peoples) to the south and east and the growth and expansion of Egypt, Carthage, the Roman Empire, the Vandals, Byzantine Empire and the Arab Caliphate.
We also get a clear picture of the break-up of the old Caliphate and the establishment of independent and virtually independent kingdsoms of Arabs (and Moors in Morocco & Spain)and their expansion (as well as that of Islam to the south with the development of the Trans-Saharan trade routes around 900 A.D.). The rise of the Ottoman control of eastern North Africa, the beginnings of the relatively small Portuguese (and Afro-Portuguese) settlements at the Angolan and Mozambique coastsand the beginnings of Cape Colony. The French slowly begin to establish colonies in Algiers and Senegal, the expansion of the Boers and the beginnings of the "scramble" (see Packenham's THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA) which resulted in almost all of Africa being made into colonies of the different European empires.
Of special interest are the maps showing the routes taken by the various Muslim and Western explorers and the growth of different parts of the population such that the Afro-Asiatics went from being the majority of peoples in Africa to the Niger-Congolese (along with the Nilo-Saharans) making up the vast majority of the African population. McEvedy does an excellent job of explaining why, despite the very large number of slaves which were taken from sub-Saharan Africa, the local populations managed to actually increase in size (the number of people sold, captured or kidnapped into slavery was less than 1/2 the expected rate of increase and most were males thus only making minor reductions in the number of local women able to reproduce).
Again, an excellent introduction to African history and reference, but it should not be - and was not intended to be - a scholoarly work. Indeed, the author even eschews the term "reference" in support of the idea that it is just an outline.