This is a history of the Ethiopians from pre-history to the present day. Drawing on research in archeology, anthropology, linguistics and on recent historiography, the book charts the development of Ethiopian peoples and their society, placing emphasis on the African origins of Ethiopian civilization.
The book opens with a review of Ethiopian prehistory, showing how the Ethiopian section of the African Rift Valley has come to be seen as the "cradle of humanity". It describes, for instance, the discovery of the remains of the oldest known hominid, "Lucy", in the middle Awash Valley, in 1974. The book then discusses Ethiopia in biblical time, reconsidering, for example, the legend of the Queen of Sheba. The author examines the various dynasties that ruled in the period up to the first Portuguese mission, and explores the subsequent political and religious struggles between Christians, Muslims and Falashas. He discusses the social and economic effects of key stages in Ethiopian history such as the Gondar period and the era of the "Judges".
The book also examines the succession of modernizing monarchs that followed, culminating in the rule of Emperor Haile Selassie. The book concludes with a review of Ethiopian history and culture considering contemporary Ethiopia within an historical context.