I had heard this was good -- that the excerpts in Harper's Magazine had pulled an excellent reader response -- but I didn't really expect to find the book as absorbing reading as it is. Mr. Leighton has taken five dead or dying cities, -- Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, which stands as a symbol of the passing of the coal region, and a monument to some of the early struggles for unionization; Birmingham, Alabama, symbol of the control of absentee ownership of the industries that created the town; Louisville, Kentucky, a town torn asunder by the struggle for control on the part of politicians and railroad men; Omaha, Nebraska, plaything of the railroad and packing magnates; Seattle, Washington, victim of another phase of railroad politics, and of the ruthlessness of the lumber kings. Implicit in these five tragic histories is much of the seamy side of the growth of our nation and our country, blots on our national scutcheon, stories that needed to be told. In telling them, the author has succeeded in dramatizing many facets of our growth, in giving due credit -- or the reverse -- to men and women who played their parts in the struggle. Grand reading -- important economic and sociological document -- a book that should find the same market that Middletown and the Rivers of America series have found. Libraries, public and private.