The phenomenon of the contemporary textbook from conception (by publisher) to adoption (by school boards), with extensions back to the New England Primer and ahead to independent inquiry, emerges firmly from this meld of statistics, interviews, citations, observations, case histories. It's a method popularized by Martin Mayer, among others, and if this lacks verve, there's no lack of hard questions asked, precise inferences underlined. A new textbook series may represent a half million dollar investment: who decides what shall and shall not go in, and why? Revealing quotes: ""it is not our job to introduce something that subverts the community:"" ""we can make better books than we can sell;"" about history--American and Russian students are equally misinformed; science (especially evolution)--""they deliberately batten on the vulgar misapprehension that scientific theory is guesswork, hence as likely to be wrong as right;"" the Negro--""the decision was to show aspirations rather than reality."" The tyranny of state adoption boards remains (Texas can control content for the whole country) but there is hope in recent government ? and foundation financed reforms., beginning with the work of Zacharias in high school physics. Consistently interesting and sometimes startling, this is still more exposure than expose; more reportage than rhetoric. It should shake up a wide audience of educators, school board members and alert parents, and perhaps hasten the trend toward replacing rote learning with understanding.