As the author states in his brief notes on his sources: ""The reader who tries to thread his way through the currents and crosscurrents of the period (1900-1919) is faced with astronomical quantities of printed matter...My method was to try to relate the experience of the assorted personalities and their assorted justifications to my own recollections...and to seek out, wherever possible, the private letter, the unguarded entry in the diary, the news report made on the spur of the moment."" The result is a brilliant and unusual kind of history; from McKinley's assassination through the tragic errors of Versailles, we are given a vivid, animated picture of the people as well as the ideas, on all levels and all sides of the innumerable issues, who made this perhaps the most crucial as well as the most confusing period of modern times. Mr. Dos Passos is well known for his ability, in fiction, to maintain at once a clear panoramic sweep of an entire era and an intimate understanding of his individual characters; this ability is a salient feature of his handling of fact in the present volume. The politics, the warfare, the social questions, the doubts and dreams and distinctive flavor of the times, everything is treated with a thrillingly readable ""you-are-there"" feeling which, however, does not detract in the least from the tolerant and knowledgeable perspective maintained from start to finish. This should stand with the finest works of Mr. Dos Passos' long and highly distinguished literary career, and is certainly a valuable contribution to the distinguished Mainstream of America Series. In fact, it would be difficult to imagine a better single-volume survey of this multifarious epoch.