Venerable psychoanalyst and social critic Fromm spreads his benign seasoning over a number of hot potatoes (including: who was Hitler? what is man? why is the 20th century so screwed up?) in this book compiled posthumously from his Swiss radio ""meditations.""In many ways, this work reads like a tract from the late 1960's. It elaborates the dangers of consumerism, the benefits of matriarchic cultures, the need to find an ""animating impulse""--i.e., a spiritual meaning--in one's life. At times Fromm's optimism sounds preposterous, as when he announces that young people today have freed themselves from Judeo-Christian guilt and unearthed a ""new honesty"" in the process. But this can be dismissed as the romanticism of an octogenarian out of touch with the facts of yuppiedom. On the other hand, his belief in the need for a rich inner life--a conviction based not on theory but upon his observations as a practicing therapist--nicely balances the narcissistic self-help pap that now overloads the psychology shelves. Fromm's cool, moderate theoretical stance will please many readers. When it comes to psychological schools, for instance, he rejects both instinctivism (which holds that everything is innate) and behaviorism (which holds that nothing is), opting instead for a common-sensical middle course. Similarly, he rejects the Lorenzian view that humans are inherently violent beasts as well as the head-in-the-sand perspective that traces all violence to social problems. And whatever his viewpoint, Fromm bolsters his arguments with fine storytelling skills. A good present for someone who feels out of place in the Me-decade and longs for some genial intellectual support. Welcome relief.