The character of a nation gauged by its most popular spectator sports -- in this case the American sporting scene as viewed by a British journalist. This surprisingly well-researched work focuses on professional baseball, football and basketball, including not only their historical origins but also their current status as socio-economic (or is it now just business?) phenomena. Gardner observes with due caution the ""intimate Financial embrace between television and sport"" -- a chapter on the difficulties of launching a pro soccer league corroborates that neither can function effectively without the other. A survey of racial integration in sports is followed by the conclusion that bigtime athletics are not yet the democratic ""dream world"" they appear to be -- Blacks are still exploited as agile commodities, and are often later neglected once their playing days are over. A profile of various players and practices past and present -- Ruth, Paige and Lombardi. . . even the NY Mets' Marvelous Mary Throneberry -- the good, like pulling a Merriwell (snatching a last-minute victory from the jaws of defeat), the bad (recruiting practices), and the ugly (fixing and gambling scandals). Despite its tone -- somewhere between scholarly and pedantic -- and one or two myopic impressions (very few gridiron linemen have ""gross bodies grotesquely out of shape"") -- this is a commendably comprehensive introduction for the uninformed and the foreign market alike.