The information in the last phrase of Barnett's subtitle may come as a surprise to many. But he has the figures to back up his assertion that English - and especially American English - is today the single (as opposed to dialect-splintered) most prevalent language in the world. Everywhere, he tells us, U.S. government installations are besieged by requests for instruction in our tongue, and even the Russians and Red Chinese offer some propaganda broadcasts in English to countries where no other language is more generally understood. Barnett, well known for many books and articles, is himself superbly able in the use of English. Having amazed his readers with these pleasant facts about the language the speak, he branches out into a wonderfully entertaining, yet information-packed, survey of English etymology, by way of history, geography, religion, politics, anthropology and literature. A section on animal ""speech"" and the physiological evolution of human speech, and an invigorating chapter on Shakespeare, bring him to contemporary times and modern pedagogy, to which his final chapter in addressed. He assaults the blind spots of the Structural linguists who teach the ""whole child"" but don't teach him to read. And he enlists parents and spectators in his attempt to achieve greater precision in language. His book is written in such a way that the average reader can understand and get the benefit of his own erudition.