In this thoughtful volume the author, Chairman of the Department of History at Yale, presents an extensive study of the Changing patterns of American thought in the 19th and 20th centuries and gives also a personal testament of faith in the future of the U.S. The treatise, based on the author's lectures to American and foreign students, is an effort to define ""American aspirations and to measure American achievements in terms of men who exemplified both the best and less-than-best in the national past."" In it the author writes of philosophers, presidents, politicians and poets, and of the varying aspects of thought in the periods in which they lived. The book, which begins with Benjamin Franklin and ends with the present day, deals also with legends such as ""rags to riches""; freedom of contract, which gave its blessing to child labor and many social injustices; the ""nobility of work"" for its own sake, wrecked by the Depression, etc. The near-leisure of today's ""do-it-its own sake, wrecked by the Depression, etc. but the era is also one of a new view-yourself"" era can bring bitter frustrations, point toward the Negro, the needs of education, and the corroding blight of poverty In has foreword the author states that his scholarly and readable study is intended for those ""who live outside the borders of the historical profession,"" but many within that profession, students and teachers alike, will welcome it as a guide to their own understanding of the changing outlines of America's ethical beliefs.