Great American spectaculars are national events that mark the progress of the social year: the ""season"" finds the same rich folks attending the Kentucky Derby, the Rose Bowl, the Indianapolis ""500,"" and the New Orleans March Gras--and the same celebrities, media crews, jewel thieves, ripoff gangs in campers, and even sex artists appear at each important date. Ludwig followed the 1972 season from site to site, or circus to circus, and reports it in a lush style just short of Lucius Beebe's splendiferous alliteratives. Just to have been ""there"" at least once in life is a great American imperative--one Derby, one ""500,"" one Mardi Gras or Tournament of Roses. And that tug of the heart, among both the rich and the plebes, is built into the formula for success in each case, a kind of sacred American litany that gives a body cold shivers: Louisville! Indianapolis! New Orleans! Pasadena! ""America was first, was number one, and mighty on the moon."" This particular year included the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach (?) as a political spectacular people were ""dying to attend."" A gala book about a helluva country--you'll keep pinching yourself to believe you actually live here.