A fat, routine history of the evolution of architecture, furniture, fashion and customs, loosely organized by topics, each chronologically developed. At her best in conveying the look, sound, smells and tastes of colonial life, Mrs. Ross skips lightly to the recent past, where she peters out. Perhaps she has been too busy writing her seventeen prior books to distinguish among the ""jet set,"" ""avant-garde,"" ""camp set"" and ""cafe society"" she lists as synonyms for the new beau monde-- to describe, much loss differentiate ""pop"" and ""mod""--to remember what came between flapper styles and the New Look--to observe that in many places ""lavender and green hair"" don't ""pass almost unnoticed."" A more serious deficiency is her silence about the influence on taste of twentieth-century mass media and the advertising they transmit. Her statistical frills also fade out as she takes a light and bright view of the mid-twentieth century: having told us how many water closets New York had in 1855, she fails to mention the percentage of Americans who still lack indoor plumbing today. All in all, Amory and Lynes are more fun on this widely attractive subject, and anyone from Mumford to Commager much more substantive.