In the West, I find many Buddhists are primarilly interested in the pragmatic and practical aspects of the faith, so there doesn't tend to be a lot of interest in what gets typically written off as dry, irrelevant history. The ahistorical bent of certain aspects of Buddhist thought lends its weight to this. Knowing what has already happened, however, can be a good pointer for figuring out where you are, and an understanding of the history and development of Buddhism is a great help in this respect. Since most people don't have the interest, time, or patience to wade through a major work on the subject, Skilton's book will fill their need. A mere couple hundred pages in length, he surveys events in brief eight to twelve page chapters that are easy to read without being simplistic. One gains insight into the great sweep of Buddhism across Asia from Japan in the East right over to Persia in the West. There is also a topically organized, extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources to further any interest the main text has raised.