We have heard a lot in the past fifty years of what was bad about Britain's colonial empire; less of what was good. This book seeks to be factual; the reader must be the judge. It is an easily read, often very funny, sometimes fascinating account of life in the Colonial Administrative Service 1938-61. The scene is largely West Africa -- Nigeria, Cameroons, the Gold Coast -- but there is a contrasting and revealing spell in the Western Aden Protectorate. As historical record, it is indispensable -- first, as insight into the inner workings of these countries pre-independence, second, as insight into British attitudes prevailing at the time. Kat and Malcolm Milne were the first couple in Eastern Nigeria to have their young children with them, an example others were soon to follow. The doings of the young play a full part in this book for not only did the work output of officers increase as a result of this more natural arrangement but children themselves proved great ambassadors: with their truthful, frank, unpretentious approach they were often able to forge ties where adults were not.;Following the career of the author from cadet to acting commissioner, a theme that permeates the second half of the book is the change in role of the colonial administrative service. Up to about 1950 it was engaged in building up the colonial empire; after in demolishing it. Progression from the apex to the nadir -- which was loyally observed. The reasons which persuaded the British government -- and other European colonial powers -- to change course are comprehensively set out. This book is a must for those who are interested in the history of the colonial empire. It is also a very good read for those who hanker for knowledge of what are nowadays often 'no-go' places in far-off lands.