Continuing this useful, reliable series, Peirce examines the region as a whole--its continuing character, assets and debits, current issues--and then portrays the individual states. New England, he finds, is suffering the problems of a mature, static economy (high unemployment, low initiative) compounded by the scarcity of natural resources (notably fuels), high electric power costs, an unfavorable location. But a renewal of growth is not impossible--at the price of potential damage to the environment, one of the area's chief assets. This Peirce projects as New England's central dilemma: inequality of incomes is already disproportionate compared with the rest of the country, and no growth will mean no redistribution. In concrete terms, the affluent Yankees will stay up, the Catholic ethnics will stay down. (Elliot Richardson, one of the many alert persons interviewed, sees the environmental issue as a tussle between ""the cross-country skier and the snowmobiler."") Peirce is equally plainspoken in reviewing the political and social patterns of the several states from liberal Massachusetts to ""unresponsive and irresponsible"" New Hampshire. Here, too, are the local bigwigs, the communities, and institutions--introduced with the lively particularity of an accomplished journalist. Peirce has outdone his model, John Gunther's Inside the U.S.A., in the sense of helping a stranger speak the natives' language.