Wakefield (the author of such popular-sociological studies as Island in the City) starts out with cute eighteenth-century epigraphs on the pattern of his subtitle, ""Being Certain Observations, Depositions, Testimonies and Graffiti Gathered on a One-Man Fact- and Fantasy-Finding Tour of the Most Powerful Nation in the World."" But by the end of his account he has abandoned his efforts at ironic detachment, even lapsing into criticism. Most of the book is reportage: parts of it have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly. Wakefield talked with protesters, including draft resisters, while-collar unionists, black militants and insurgent clerics. . .he explored the ""silent center"" and the fringes of the ""pacified"" majority, and he anatomized super-patriots inside and outside Washington. Sometimes he settles for the easy laugh (a Southern California ""Parents Meet the Hippies"" panel) or the easy wince (veterans' reminiscences of torturing V.C. suspects); but on balance it is an honest, suggestive, quite successful attempt to convey a sense of American life during the ""two wars.