Van Wyck Brooks has been charged with the selection and editing of the manuscript material on which Miss Rourke was working towards a three volume history of American culture. He has contributed a preface which credits Miss Rourke -- through previous published work and this -- as making a great contribution to the better understanding of every phase of our culture, and its deep rooting in social and artistic organisms. The succeeding chapters constitute essays on various aspects, music, art, radical contributions, religious contributions, the early national drama, folk lore, which -- taken together, present a rich pattern of nascent culture, a culture which has necessarily borrowed from the European, but which has much that is original. Constance Rourke, without sacrificing scholarship, has a faculty for marshalling her facts, reinterpreting them, giving them color and flavor and personality and humor, which makes her subject alive and real to the average reader. Her death is a real loss to American literature.