A searing critique of the American family, our corporate leaders and public officials. American children, contends economist Hewlett (The Cruel Dilemmas of Development, 1980), are victims of private and public neglect. There are almost 13 million poor children in this country, Hewlett declares--a rise of 20% since 1979. Of these, 330,000 are homeless and 12 million are uninsured and medically neglected. Hewlett also cites increasing numbers of broken marriages, unwed teen-age mothers, and drug-addicted babies. Our barely literate high-school graduates, she says, cannot compete with their peers in Japan or Europe. Hewlett places much of the onus for the crisis on the breakdown of the family. With the therapists and feminists of the Sixties, she argues, came a ``me first'' philosophy that fostered divorce and neglected children. Government policies--local and national--have been equally detrimental. Restrictions on free legal abortions have resulted in the birth of unwanted children whose societal costs become a monumental burden to all. And housing welfare families in squalid welfare hotels at $2,000 a month is both unconscionable and counterproductive, she contends. Hewlett winds up her impassioned text with concrete suggestions for reform, ranging from changes in the divorce laws to staggered work hours that allow parents to spend more time with children. Much can be learned from her compelling, well-documented study.