Subtitled- ""The historic currents of our time and the directions in which they are taking America"" -- this is a sober and disturbing analysis which challenges the inertia of our assumptions that the past defines the future and that we can control history. We are in a state either of defensive insecurity or of unwarranted optimism. Mr. Heilbroner explores the currents of our times, their roots in the past, the direction they are taking us. We must recognize that our mastery is now challenged -- our philosophy has become too parochial for today's realities. The impact of the bomb; the modern machinery of war; the revolutionary extension of political aspirations of underdeveloped nations and the degree to which collectivism is espoused by most of them; the attractions of authority with the examples of the Soviet and China offering a far more convincing alternative than democracy. Communism is today playing the role Capitalism did in the 17th and 18th centuries; we are failing to offer efficacious and speedy alternatives to what they offer. A quick survey of socialism as evidenced in Europe reveals collective society and economic goals of national scope. What is the American position? He poses the case for and against the overall growth of capitalism and concludes that to save our role in history we must accept some measure of planning, determine the kind and the direction or we may acquire economic abundance at the cost of a society of control. The dilemma is a bitter one; the solution he envisions will be fiercely resisted; our optimism is no longer a virtue but a dangerous delusion. He closes with a plea for fortitude and understanding if we are ultimately to assure the kind of economic responsibility we want.