An intriguing if often irritating book, this is certain to arouse a great deal of interest and considerable controversy. Whether or not this adds up to a substantial market is questionable. The book is continually interesting in its cultural and religious history of some 50 million Americans. It is spiced with keen and often cutting observations on the life and morals of present-day Yankees and their forebears. In style it is an odd blend of ideas usually formulated in the language of The New York Times here translated into the lingo of The Daily News. Opinion-wise, the author, is fearless in stepping on toes; historians, psychologists, politicians, educators, clergymen, even the man in the street and the woman in the home -- all will feel the barbs. Many will disagree with his fundamental division of America into two cultures, Greater New England and the Old South. For the rest, he feels they can be bypassed because of the hybrid nature of their culture. Others will protest both his definition of Puritanism and his defense of it. The old Puritan culture, he feels, has reached its nadir. Historically he divides his review into four periods:- The World of Cosmos- 1630-1700; The World of Man- 1700-1800; The World of Men-1800-1900; The World of Me- 1900-1960. And surprisingly, almost irrelevantly, he suggests at the close, as a way out, a synthesis of Christianity and Buddhism. For a lay rather than a religious market.