Using four myths or morality tales to describe the American historical and contemporary approach to reality, Reich (The Next American Frontier) attempts an in-depth analysis of what we think of ourselves and the world. The myths serve as guideposts; their shifting emphases define the attitude of the nation toward foreign and domestic policies. The author's grasp of America's political mythology is impressive. His four main parables are: the Mob at the Gates--meaning all the rest of them except us; the Triumphant Individual--which is the entrepreneur, or Mr. Deeds Goes to Washington: the Benevolent Community--a concept that defines our concern for the less fortunate; and the Rot at the Top--a catchall for the bigwigs who everyone suspects call the shots often at the expense of the common man. These basic outlines are used to clarify our history and to point out certain postwar developments which Reich feels have produced two divergent trends, one conservative, the other liberal. The problem is that neither one is effective, and partisans of one or the other whipsaw the nation's policies between their extremes. The results are often unfortunate in that the nation's best interests are poorly served. As we shift from altruism to discipline and aggression, Reich argues, little attention is paid to devising saner, more rational policies which would benefit the nation and the world at large. There's lots to chew on here. Both liberals and conservatives can benefit because the author challenges the pet cliches of both and encourages a more rigorous analysis of American society. Enlightening for those willing to examine deep-set prejudices and rigid preconceptions.