While the public is aware that the federal government is The Big Spender for scientific research and development in this country, few know the intricate workings of the government agencies, national science organizations, and executive and legislative councils and committees which are responsible for the distribution of funds. It is a thicket of confusion and acronyms, and Reagan, a professor of political science at the Riverside campus of the University of California, has done a masterful job of tracing how all this came to be in the short span of a generation. He is worried about the ultimate effect of government spending--now an irrevocable and irreversible trend--on the quality and quantity of scientific work and on higher education. Informed readers will be familiar with some of the concerns--cutbacks in ""pure"" research grants; the trend to give funds to universities rather than to individuals within the university, the problems of duplication and occasional duplicity in applying for research grants, and the shocking ignorance and prejudices which still exist. In his concluding remarks Reagan speaks out strongly for support of the social sciences; he also suggests a number of ways of consolidating and strengthening certain agencies, of re-structuring the National Science Foundation and perhaps establishing a cabinet level department for research and higher education. Lastly he outlines how priorities might be assigned for research projects--the highest going to those ""social objectives which are defined as most urgent politically and to which scientific research can most clearly make a contribution.