The degree of objectivity obtained in this volume would be remarkable if the events under scrutiny were a hundred years behind us instead of, at most, a dozen. But objectivity is a graceless blessing, and one can be sure that partisans of either side of the struggle over equal rights for Negroes will not be very thankful for it. The author remains all but totally anonymous and impartial. Perhaps this is partly a result of the auspices under which the book was prepared-- a shadowy, Ford Foundation-supported agency called the Southern Education Reporting Service. At any rate the story, from the handing down of the Brown decision by the Supreme Court to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, has never been told so comprehensively or calmly. The focus, such as it is, falls upon the ""important"" figures, presidents, governors, and judges; the three SNCC workers murdered in Philadelphia, Miss., for instance, rate two sentences and are not even named. Yet the conclusion is inescapable, that all the ""leaders"" on both sides were able to do was to keep up with the majority of their ""followers."" A possible corollary, that desegregation is at best a mechanical first step along a very lengthy road to real equality, is sobering but just as obvious.