Kremen -- he's written for The Nation and Dissent -- spent many months on the road hitchhiking from factory to farm, ghetto to suburb, taking spot checks of the nation's pulse, listening to what Americans are thinking and saying in this day of spiraling inflation, drying gas pumps, and White House assaults on the electoral process. And despite our misfiring economy and the extreme bitterness of young workers and of ostensibly privileged students, Kremen is hopeful. In the Vega plant in Lordstown, Ohio, the young workers are a truculent breed; they go AWOL on Mondays, smoke pot, talk of wildcat strikes and industrial sabotage. On the campuses placard radicalism has given way to food coops and new proletarian life styles. Kremen, who says he's leery of grandiose summaries, nevertheless senses an inchoate but powerful hatred of the value system which equates money with the measure of a man. For the first time in America's history, the young are casting a jaundiced eye on the joys of ""moving upward"" -- ""thus insulting the central idea of our culture."" Kremen can be faulted here and there for romanticizing the new virtues of workers and students, yet he listens well and questions shrewdly and despite the apparent dormant state of the country, he believes that ""those outbursts of the sixties have not fizzled in a spent madness but continue to unfold in vastly different forms."" A speculative probing of the nation's psyche, but a compelling one.