Mr. Michener is modest about his ability to turn out this kind of book, which is a series of reflections on "where we are and where we are likely to go" as we approach the American bicentennial. And with good reason. For what he has produced is a banal restatement of the problems confronting America: urban congestion; racial tension; educational crises; proper use of communications media; environmental erosion: and over-population. And to these he proposes solutions redolent of the editorial pages of every, maior publication in the country for the past year: we must get out of Vietnam; we must evolve a new spiritual agreement; we must distribute the benefits of our society more equitably; we must re-establish and maintain control. And all this in sixteen thousand words, each one of which is uttered with the solemnity of a pope pontificating on a matter of faith. Whatever happened, one wonders, to the storytelling enterprise that fired Tales of the South Pacific? To the sense of historical continuity that produced Iberia? Whatever happened, in fact, to editors who had the courage to say "no" even to best-selling authors?