This book grew out of one ""self-evident"" proposition: that, aside from the family and the church, and at least until the early part of the 20th century, ""the basic form of social organization experienced by the vast majority of Americans...was the small town."" The author notes that individual towns have been analyzed quite intensively, but this is the first attempt at an historical study of the American town. Rather than reaching for the definitive, he has aimed at laying down fundamentals. He concentrates on two types of towns: the ""colonized,"" such as the ""covenanted communities of New England; and the ""cumulative,"" which, like Topsy, just grew. While most readers would accept the idea of there having been a kind of politics and economics peculiar to the small town, many may think that Page Smith oversteps when he speaks of ""the Ideology of the Town."" Nevertheless, he builds his arguments thoroughly, with apt references from a wide range of literature and primary material, and whether or not his work marks the birth of a new branch of study as he claims, it is informed and readable.