This book really is an excellent, comprehensive guide to Buddhism. It will orient you in the wide array of Buddhist practices going on today, with historical and conceptual background from the Indian roots of Buddhism, through its spread over Asia and into the West, so you can get a clear understanding of what the differences are between Zen, Theravada, the various Tibetan schools, etc. At the end is a "Who's Who" of contemporary teachers a Westerner might meet or want to know about; then a list of useful addresses in the US and Canada; a festival list; a "further reading" list; and an index. I want to keep this book on my shelf for long term reference.
If you want to know all about how Buddhism spread from its origin; this is the book for you. On the other hand, if your looking for a book that explains basic buddhist belief and practice... Look else where. Breif descriptions of karma and selflessness, Extensive detail of where the dharma spred to. So for beginners like myself, I would pass on this one.