After a stint as New York Times foreign correspondent, Szulc's 1970 reassignment to the domestic scene forced him to rediscover the country he left six years ago. Examining poverty, worker alienation, population shifts and youth culture, Szulc's three years of off-and-on travels through the nation animate his census compilations. He delivers actual insights into the state of decay of an economy where, according to his figures, close to 40 percent of the total labor force by 1969 were underemployed in terms of hours worked; of a society where, as a sociologist friend says, ""the class problem is infinitely more serious"" than abstract racism. Szulc's sketch of the total collapse of the low-income housing market is juxtaposed with upper suburbia's self-righteous zero-growth mentality. In his Greening-of-America moods Szulc naively praises youth and counterculture and profusely quotes the street-fighting rhetoric of his own children. At the end of his exploration he has no real sense of where the U.S. is going; but the empirical manifestations of a society in breakdown come through as a serious reality.