John Fischer, the editor of Harper's Magazine, has such an agreeable manner that it's hard to take anything he says very seriously, harder still to worry that you're not. These pieces- mostly an assemblage of the ""Easy Chair"" columns he's been concocting for his magazine since the mid-'50's- are really a barometer of the liberal-conservative ethos of the Eisenhower-Kennedy years, and as a streamlined middle-brow Fischer makes a fitting spokesman. These are cool, crisp evaluations of all the problems the neo-sociological article-factories have been hammering us with, are status symbols, foreign policy, the Negro revolt, the population explosion, the educational crisis, the radical Right, etc. Some, of course, are now curios: the Davy Crockett Industry, McCarthyism, and Fischer's nomination of Cozzens for a Nobel Prize on the strength of By Love Possessed (!). Fischer launches in with a lot of leg work, and if his treks never prove to be profound, they are certainly informative, breezy, on the whole sensible, and not in the least (for readers anyway) hard going. In addition, there are bonuses: first, a clever set of imaginary interviews, and second, a better than clever assessment of US politics.