The words of America's best-known contemporary essayist may not have quite the effect between hard covers that they have when read one column at a time in the rustle and bustle of immediate affairs, and certain subjects may have been ""done to death"" since the original publication of the essays anthologized here. But Krutch is never dull, even in retrospect, and by and large the problems of these pieces retain great topicality because mankind has not yet really come to grips with them: education, hedonism, social usefulness, capital punishment, the science-culture gap, the shortcomings of mechanistic evolution. Not insignificant, either, are his pithy comments on ""New Wave"" dramaturgy, the virtues of the conservation of natural resources, and the essential meaning of ""a high standard of living."" Americans, in Krutch's view, have yet to develop an objective view of themselves. By holding up a mirror to some of our practices and preachments, he surely contributes to the possibility that someday we may.