The first of a trilogy on different strands in American culture, this is inclined to err on the side on intellectual snobbery. The author deals with the cultural effects of migrations from Europe to America -- the two way pull in American intellectual flowering. Each section has its roots in the past, each has its own form of snobbery, New England with its scorn for the Middle West, and so on. This is illustrated with various writers, -- Walt Whitman, focal center of the two way evolution, Henry Adams, seeking an answer to the question of the American character, Garland, son of the Middle Border. From this point -- to the main thesis, epitomized in Henry James, who went back unwittingly to England; Henry Adams who turned to the Church; and T. S. Eliot, who is intellectual rooted in 12th century France...Not for the masses. And intellectuals will find it self-conscious involved and overwritten, I think.