The author, Christopher Spring is Curator, Department of Ethnography, of the British Museum. Thus he is well acquainted with the sources and has made excellent use of first-hand accounts, museum and sales catalogs, and ethnographical and typological studies to synthesize this general overview of the subject.
He states in his introduction: "This book is primarily intended to celebrate African artistry and ingenuity. It also attempts to show the way in which arms and armor are incorporated into the complex material systems which express the structure of non-industrial societies....I believe that to underrate the significance of these artefacts within the societies which produced them would be to overlook a whole range of human endeavour and activity."
The book contains a Foreword, Introduction, and eight chapters on each cultural region of Africa. 1.Arab and Berber--North Africa and the Sahara, 2. Knights of the Savanna--Warfare in Sudanic Africa, 3. Forest Kingdoms of West Africa, 4. The Shining Mystery--Throwing Knives of Africa, 5. Royal Blacksmiths--the Kuba Kingdom and the Congo Basin, 6. the Horn of Africa, 7. Cattle and Conflict--East African Pastorialists and Their Neighbors. 8. Mfecane--The Zulu and the Nguni Diaspora.
There are 30 color and 130 grey scale illustrations. Biblio and index.
The only chapter which covers more than one culture is Four, describing the famous fabulously shaped throwing knives.