Most of what is wrong with Americans today is chronicled in the work of Henry Fairlie. Here, the British-born syndicated columnist and author of The Kennedy Promise and The Parties deftly shifts his attention from public polity to the social fabric. Fairlie relates each of the seven deadly sins to our own time: the present-day expression of Envy is seen in, for one thing, the mindless and petty profusion of gossip columns, Gluttony in the increasing number of gourmet cookbooks issued by the New York Times. Other cases are more complex, and all are bound together thematically by Fairlie's contempt for the personality of the ""me decade"" of the Seventies. Repeatedly, Fairlie faults the excesses of ""grossly distorted individualism"" as the egocentric, indulgent ""retreat into ourselves."" Like Chesterton or Mencken, he criticizes all and sundry (rather than social institutions) and is implicitly nostalgic for past social relationships which, however, are never specified. There has always been an element of moralism in Fairlie's prose: the reader senses in him a sort of modern Amos admonishing Americans for their serf-indulgences. Although more cranky than spiteful, Fairlie is unfortunately given to indicting a whole people, and the sins he describes are, in many cases, susceptible of different interpretation. But like Fairlie's other writings, The Seven Deadly Sins Today is full of original and often exhilarating observations on such divers matters as Jonathan Livingston Seagull, wheat germ, and The Joy of Sex. A blessed antidote to mass-mindlessness altogether.