Gr 6-8--The Aztec and Incan kingdoms are surveyed, from the civilizations that influenced them to their demise at the hands of Spanish conquistadors. The ambitious Ancient African Kingdoms attempts to cover nine kingdoms, 2500 years, and a whole continent in 60 pages. It all becomes a little confusing and, in some cases, contradictory. Although these name- and date-laden texts lay their content out with nearly mechanical organization and language, they don't (as some books do) sap all of the mystery and marvel from their subjects. Despite a design that sacrifices white space for typeface size, with narrow margins and gutters and tight line spacing that hampers readability, the decent maps and good photos of artifacts and sites may prompt further exploration. Short lists of sources will not be of much help in this regard, and other niceties are disregarded also--there is no pronunciation help, and glossary words are not bolded in the text. The authors are up front about the less savory aspects of each culture--Aztec mass human sacrifice and bloodletting, the Inca habit of giving girls as gifts, and the participation of later African kingdoms in the slave trade--but occasionally, judgmental language slips in (a turquoise mosaic mask is described as being "horrific," the Aztec religion as "gruesome"). The Aztec Empire and The Incan Empire would make good companions for the "National Geographic Investigates" books on the same subjects, but Victoria Sherrow's Ancient Africa: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of Africa's Past (2007) in that series is much superior to Ancient African Kingdoms.--Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD[Page 183]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.