A book calculated to make you sentimental despite yourself for the ""old green slow world"" of the South in the days when radio was in its infancy, the Model T clanged along dirt roads, and civilization was in the hands of Christian gentlemen of good Anglo-Saxon blood. Christian gentlemen like Sam Ervin, born and bred in Morganton, N.C., where he still lives. Sure, he disliked labor unions; made a career of filibustering against civil fights legislation; opposed Medicare, the ERA, and the Federal minimum wage acts. But not because Sam didn't care about blacks or poor people. Only because he perceived--long before the rest of us--a menacing ""saurian intrusion"" by the Federal government into the lives of ordinary citizens. Skeptics may see Ervin's record and rhetoric as just an updated states' rights battle cry, but Dabney's romance with the genteel South and the enormous rectitude of Sam, the courtly Bible-quoting good old boy, carry the day here. Ervin comes across as the canny, vigilant legal scholar and Constitutionalist fighting a rear-guard action to save the perishing Republic from the slick, rootless, power-hungry new breed. Dabney, a novelist, chewed the fat with Sam, his family and aides, and the folks back in Morganton; he even took note of the black cab driver who said, ""He ain't never done nothing for my people. He was on the other side."" Sam still emerges as the most principled, righteous man in the Senate. The title says it all.