The United States as seen by its humorists: it could be funny but the running commentary is wordy, repetitious and extended. The author avers an early rivalry between, stately colonization in the East and rambunctious set-ups in the West; his reasoning is tenuous but Americans continue to live with similar distinctions. He also separates anti-snobbery from anti-intellectualism, and suggests that the Westerner moved from being the source of humor in the 19th century to being the object of it in the 20th. The writers, however, are prime: Franklin, Holmes, Lowell; Twain, here judged ""The Prince""; the local colorists like Charles Dudley Warner; Mencken, Rogers, Thurber, Benchley; the postwar ""sick"" comedians, and many others. Even Dick Gregory (early) and Godfrey Cambridge add a few lines at the end, although no other ethnic humor (e.g. immigrants, religious sects, etc.) appears. The quotations are indented and in different size type so you could read between the (straight) lines but any one of the above alone would be better without detours.