Black Mountain College has always been a loaded topic and perhaps now more than ever since the issues it raised have become preoccupations of the society at large. The spectacular creative influence of some of its alumni has given it the force of myth as an argument for intentional community and ""whole-person"" style education; its administrative history -- a history of factionalism and sometimes brutal high-handedness -- argues as convincingly on the other side. The problem that remains is the college's original one of finding congruity between art and life, ideals and practice; Duberman adapts his methods accordingly, surrendering the historian's customary protective anonymity, exposing his own struggles and biases. The aim is sound both philosophically (all history conceals a viewpoint) and for the case in hand (Duberman was lately embroiled in the sort of academic cold war that Black Mountain typifies), but it is somewhat awkward for him to implement. The several modes involved tend to remain discrete: marvelously animated and altogether professional narrative history; judicious analysis (more judicious at times than ""objective"" historians often find necessary); self-critical, almost confessional passages reviewing the author's own relation to the material. It can be disorienting, at least, to slip from one to the other, and sometimes a little embarrassing in the light of our expectations; but that is largely a problem of innovation for both reader and writer, and perhaps the chief reason the book is so involving. Another is that this is as total and thoughtful a view as we are likely to get of the college in all its grueling, gay immediacy, also an act of some courage on Duberman's part, certain to fire passions pro and con. Copiously researched and annotated.