Professor Von Laue, the author of Why Lenin, Why Stalin, turns his talents in this new book to the interrelated tasks of summation and prophecy. It is a summation in the sense that it analyzes and synthesizes the major trends of the past hundred years (which the author chooses to designate as ""contemporary history""); prophecy, in the sense that, from the premised synthesis, Von Laue projects a pattern of future development in the last part of the present century. For this purpose, the author views contemporary history as a surge toward ""the global city""; that is, as a period of global confluence, in which the values and institutions of the ""metropolis""--the West--are being absorbed and adapted by the non-metropolis (the non-Western nations). Consequently almost irresolvable tensions are being created both between the metropolis and the non-metropolis and within the fabric of the metropolis itself. The results, the end of which will not be seen in the twentieth century, will affect the very structure of the (now) essentially democratic metropolis by creating situations impossible to appraise and respond to with that emotional and intellectual detachment which the functional res publica requires. An interesting thesis, more than a little Toynbeean in its direction and scope, and only slightly flawed by the author's penchant for an extreme reductionism in approach.