It is the purpose of the authors, a lecturer in constitutional law, University of Virginia and a Professor of history, Scripps College, respectively, ""to offer...a reliable summary of the sources, methods and the results of more than three centuries of self-government in America."" Each of the chapters is signed by the particular contributor and cover in rapid order and concise form, the self-governing process from the Mayflower Compact to the effects on national sovereignty of the U.N. Charter. Precedent-setting men and events -- Marshall's decisions, Jackson's term, Reconstruction, Roosevelt's innovation, World Wars -- are sketched and their ramifications highlighted. Two chapters are devoted to that rallying phrase ""the welfare state"", in one of which Richberg claims that ""the welfare state must become national socialism"" -- an often disputed prediction. On the whole the effort is a competent, cogent, conservative statement, presupposing basic historical knowledge.