It is the set text on that most vital and defining period in terms of the West’s engagement with Africa. He writes beautifully and it’s massively encyclopedic in its breadth of scholarship. You can’t understand anything about contemporary Africa without reading this book. It’s an extraordinary work because it’s a compelling read, like an absolutely gripping novel. He brilliantly deconstructs the personalities of the rulers and conquerors, and it is, of course, meticulously researched.