The United States became a nation, Mr. Hirschfeld implies, by first achieving a common purpose (opposition to ""British taxation without representation"") and later recognizing the common interest as paramount (viz. the Constitution). This then is structured but not analytical history--structured because the account of events from the settlement of Jamestown to the end of Washington's second administration (the book's scope) concentrates heavily on the periods crucial for national consciousness; not analyticaly because the underlying causes are very little developed. The period of settlement passes quickly, the confrontations from the Stamp Act to the Declaration of Independence are covered in detail; the Revolution is summarized, the difficulties attending and following the adoption of the Articles of Confederation are spelled out, as are the problems of writing and securing adoption of the Constitution. If it all didn't sound so stale, if the style had more vitality, the ideas more penetration, this would be a considerable contribution; it does rate nevertheless as an orderly presentation of information useful for understanding American political history.