Drawn from published criticism and lecture notes, Fiedler's 13 essays are concerned ""with political events, the American scene, and literature as a cultural fact"". Fiedler, who brought the French mystic Simone Weil to public attention and has a high standing in this field, is well aware of the presumptuousness behind writing articles on the Rosenbergs, Hiss and McCarthy, as well as on psychological and sociological phenomena. In spite of a freewheeling manner in describing ideas, and subject matter ranging from Seder in Rome to homosexuality in Mark Twain and Fenimore Cooper, Fiedler nevertheless has certain organizing ideas. Specifically he points to the over-intellectualized life of liberals, lost in the theory of social problems without any personal commitment. Illusion in this little book spreads to the hopelessly unfounded notions Italians have of life in America, the ""last frontier"" pipedream of settlers in modern Montana, and the prospect of true tragic literature made possible only today in America where the consciousness of the failure of Western culture may reach its extreme.... The market will be closely limited to aesthetes and litterateurs.