Bliven's verdict on the first three years of the all-volunteer Armed Forces is favorable in a wishy-washy sort of way. Fears that Defense Department manpower quotas wouldn't be met have proved groundless; moreover it's not just because of the recession, not ""just because they're getting the dropouts and the unemployed, especially blacks."" Bliven, who has compiled statistics and interviewed both academic and military authorities, conveys a good deal of information but relies on others for interpretations. He leans heavily on the opinions of Morris Janowitz, a University of Chicago sociologist and author of The Professional Soldier; Janowitz sees ""the end of a historic epoch--the era of conscripted, mass armed forces."" Thus far, recruitment of women has exceeded expectations, blacks and Southerners are slightly over-represented but ""the spectre of an all-black military is nonsense""--even if some combat units are 35% black. Bliven gamely ploughs through the complexities of military budgets, bureaucratic boondoggles, costs (starting salaries for volunteer recruits were raised from $145 to $288 a month), and the prospect for manpower reductions below the current 2,130,000 figure. But beyond a tacit endorsement of Janowitz' view that the military is in need of redefining its ""professional outlook,"" he doesn't broach basic policy questions; he's pro--and he barely considers alternatives. An important subject, but a limited and on the whole quite dull book.