Beginning with Flo Morse's Yankee Communes (KR, 1971) there have been three very competent juvenile essays on America's utopian communities. Here the same subject has been stretched a bit at both ends to include flashbacks to the communal tradition in agricultural societies and Catholic monasteries as well as chapters on collectivization in the Soviet Union and China, Israeli Kibbutzim and counterculture communes in America today. Baum's reportage at least has the merit of comprehensiveness -- the chronology, local development, goals and major problems of each type of community are efficiently summarized, but she seems to have little real sympathy for communes in general -- or even a broad appreciation of their aims. The demise of China's collectives is noted with the sweeping pronouncement that even ""where the basic ideology emphasized equality and common ownership. . . communes failed to take root because they ran counter to human nature""; the report on Kibbutzim emphasizes setbacks over successes. Elinor Horwitz in Communes in America pointed out that even practical failures like Brook Farm had some positive value for those who participated in the experiment; Baum focuses on neither the personal dimension of communitarian life nor the viability of communes as institutions -- nor even on the eccentricities which make the topic entertaining. Marginal.