Concurring more or less with the notorious adage that power corrupts, etcetera, Professor MacIver is inquiring here into the hows and whys. His approach in two stages; first, a personalized account of the tremendous changes which have taken place in the conditions of the world since he was a boy in Victorian Scotland, and then an erudite investigation into some of the philosophic questions behind those changes. At all times he maintains his subject in the broadest of possible senses: ""Power ...is the means of all the desires and designs of men, of all their values and all their achievements."" But at the same time it is in the most ominous recent trends of the basis and distribution of such power that he would have us most interested. The complex, continually shifting patterns of the past half-century, he believes, can and must tell us ""a most revealing tale concerning the miscarriages"" of social forces in all their various manifestations, because the keynote of the third quarter of the 20th century is going to be ""the stultification of power and the impotence of the strategy of power."" Since we are now at a ""crucial stage,"" something very profound must be learned and applied, very soon. In all, as might have been expected, Professor MacIver has produced a quietly persuasive and illuminating book.