A well-respected former dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard, Rosovsky here offers a very positive, very upbeat defense of American higher education by presenting an insider's view of the workings of a great research university. America, Rosovsky says, has two thirds of the best universities in the world; his reasons for this include, most prominently, broad, democratic, need-blind admissions and tenure-based, merit-defined faculties. He bases his findings primarily on the study of 50 leading research universities, finding that competition among them for faculty and monies (e.g., the well-known Harvard-Stanford rivalry) is also a major reason for what he sees as America's educational excellence; and no matter how renowned the faculty at any American university, he claims, scholars are requited to teach on the undergraduate level. All this contrasts to European universities, which, according to Rosovsky, are cocoons of tradition, class, wealth, and politicized administrations. Of course, given the recent criticism from the likes of Bennett, Bloom, Silber, and Hirsch, some might see Rosovsky as too bullish on American higher education; but he accuses these very critics of nostalgia in maintaining that yesterday's university was the best: ""I like the university better today than forty years ago."" Of potential interest for all the university's owners--students, faculty, administrators, etc.--particularly for its rare optimism.