Robert Sansom was an assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency from 1971 to 1974 and thus he understands, as an outsider cannot, that environmental legislation and policy are determined more by personalities and politics than by sound research and planning. The New American Dream Machine contains its fair-share of statistics, analyses, and proposals but its chief value lies in the behind-the-scenes account of environmental and energy politics (and politics in general) during the first half of the 1970s. The catch-phrase ""quality of life,"" for instance, was originally mentioned in sarcasm in a meeting in Haldeman's office and ""adopted in a moment of irony as the label for the OMB (Office of Management & Budget) process intentionally set up to ease ecological requirements."" Other privileged information: the reason that EPA auto emission standards remained strict and imposition proceeded was because GM president Edward Cole was personally committed to the program--much to the consternation of President Nixon and White House staffers who were pushing for reduction and delay. Sansom's slant on these and other events makes for exciting, ""shoot 'em up, boys!"" reading. Carry salt, though. He has the inside dope, not the total picture.