This seventh volume in Peirce's crisp, discursive series is not as cohesive as some earlier entries (The Deep South, 1974; The New England States, 1976). The reasons are obvious: the region itself is less distinct; Washington, D.C., Delaware, and Maryland continue to grow in population while the three giants, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, are stagnating, or (as in the case of New York City) actually losing people. Overall, the supremacy--cultural, financial, economic--of these states is in decline, with industry moving South and West, jobs and people following. But the diminishing prosperity is an uneven phenomenon, and Peirce does his usual alert, if somewhat scattershot, survey of politics, crime, corruption, inner city blight, local leadership, and commercial flux. The epidemic of criminality which held New Jersey politics in a vise in the '60s, finally sending scores of elected officials to prison; the volcanic eruptions of Philadelphia's own Mussolini, Frank Rizzo; the ongoing sway of du Ponts in Delaware (""No one is quite sure just how many du Ponts there are; estimates range up to 2,000. . ."")--Peirce touches all bases. The geographic features as well as local history of each state are mapped for out-of-towners unfamiliar with such classic machine bosses as Hudson County's Frank Hague, or New York's own pragmatic Master Builder, Nelson R. Peirce contends that a major problem hampering the entire area is the multiplicity of local governments: municipal, county, township, borough--each with its own wheels to grease and vested interests to shelter. Throughout this fact-filled, eminently readable account, there is an acute sense of the social and historical patterns that unite even this most pluralistic of regions.