Unless substantive remedial steps are taken, warn Grayson (founder of the nonprofit American Productivity Center) and his sometime colleague O'Dell, Japan could supplant the US as the world's ranking economic power within the next couple of decades--about two minutes on history's clock. In their authoritative audit of this consequential rivalry, the authors argue persuasively that government and labor as well as management can do much to restore the competitive edge long enjoyed by the US in global markets. Given their APC ties, it's not surprising that Grayson and O'Dell consider productivity (broadly deemed as the optimal use of all available resources--capital, energy, material, personnel, technology, et al.) the key determinant of America's economic future. Unfortunately, their data show that domestic productivity gains have been lagging relative to those of the past, when the US led the international pack for almost a century--and in the context of growth rates logged by many industrial nations. Among other undesirable effects, the authors observe, this erosion threatens taken-for-granted advances in the country's standard of living. At the heart of the text, thus, is a soundly conceived, convincingly documented agenda of possible reforms. As is customary in such circumstances, the authors divide their prescriptive program into a wealth of checklists. Their collection ranges from 10 tough issues (accounting, organization, quality control, training, and the like) that should be addressed by corporate executives through a three-part plan for improving labor/management relations. There also are a baker's dozen dos and don'ts for government, whose centerpiece is a plea to shore up an education system in demonstrable decline. Timely, down-to-earth guidance on a subject of vital interest to a wide readership.