Considered by many to be the Malcolm Cowley and John Aldrich of the Democratic Left in this country, Irving Howe continues his scrutiny of the activities of those who are political exiles within their own country. His collection of essays and journalistic pieces covers the period from 1953 to 1966, from the democratic dog-days of the McCarthy era to what for Howe is the exhilaration over the rise of the New Left on or near the campus. Along the way there are encounters with Boris Pasternak, Stevenson and the intellectuals, Johnson and the myth of consensus, Goldwater, and the Berkeley movement. Mr. Howe has a congenital distaste for the authoritarian mind, right or left, or the rigidities of doctrinaire ideologists. His book comes through, not as a disjointed congeries of journalistic ephemera, but as a compelling reaffirmation of a Socialist's credo--probing, self-critical, with a sustaining inclination to reconstruct a workable politics of the Left, even after the bruising years of hopes unfulfilled and positions made obsolete by a society in constant transformation. No one should be surprised over Mr. Howe's desire to exalt democratic procedures rather than isms; his latest book is an able and important lamentation for the decline of the old American virile progressivism and an expression of pleasure for the rise of the new politics.