That sums it up: this is an excellent place to start your study of Ethiopian history. Marcus appears to specialize in Ethiopian history (he has written biographies of Emperors Haille Selassie and Menelik, both available from Amazon.com). But before reading those you might want to read his History of Ethiopia. Marcus traces the history of this fascinating but mysterious land back to earliest times, and takes it right up to the fall of Mengistu in 1991. Perhaps someday a revision should be done to add events that took place after that, but right now it is too soon; history is still being made in Ethiopia. Most of the book deals with the period after about 1850, but as I said, if you're looking for a good general history filled with facts and details, this is it.
I read this book after I visited Ethiopia and I wish I had done so before that visit. It has a clear layout, gives good and quick access to the essentials of Ethiopia's known history, and brings you right up to date into the modern times of current political trends. It is obviously written by a person who has fallen in love with Ethiopia and could connect with its rich diverse cultures.
As far as I can see this is the only academic history of Ethiopia available, and on the whole it is a worthwhile read. Marcus gives balanced opinions and has clearly spent much time researching this book. However, I do have a few quibbles. Firstly, some epochs are dealt with in much more detail than others. I was disappointed by the paucity of information on Lalibela (spelling) and also the 1984 famine. The latter was especially surprising as it was an event that came to represent the World's view of post-modern Ethiopia. I was expecting at least a few pages on Bob Geldof and the effectiveness with which the money raised was spent, but Band Aid/LiveAid doesn't even get a mention. Also, and this may seem a touch petty, I found his use of exclamation marks to emphasis his jokes unprofessional.
The book like others states that all people orginated from Ethiopia before exploring lands further a field. The Ethiopian monarchy is described in quite some detail including the highs and lows of Haile Selassie. I wanted to understand why rastafarians grew dreadlocks and how this was associated with Tafari, which I did not find the answer to in this book. There are many interestng facts that I have expanded my knowledge nonetheless, so this book is a recommended read.