When he was a boy, Oklahoman Fred Harris walked five miles to school, shared a single pair of gloves with his sister. But he assures at the outset, ""most of what I know, I learned at your expense."" Convinced that what he can learn others can, he explains what he has found out about America. ""We are teetering between a much more repressive society or the chaos of anarchy,"" he warns, turns variously to the plight of the adolescent, the poor, the Negro (his systematic downgrading--""the most unholy and destructive factor in American society""). He finds that the quality of American life does not match its affluence, that we cannot compromise any longer with racism, that idealism is the pragmatism of our age. Hope lies in treating causes, in becoming ""people-oriented"" and ""problem-oriented,"" in keeping our ""rendezvous with destiny"" and building a new spirit of community in America. Senator Harris writes with conviction and understanding. His book has a direct, approachable appeal.