Splendid collection of miscellaneous essays, speeches, and other writings viewing and reviewing the condition of teaching in America. Booth (English/U. of Chicago; The Rhetoric of Fiction, The Company We Keep) is typically erudite, wry, learned, and finally very serious in this generous address to all those, especially teachers and would-be teachers, concerned firsthand with American education. Booth's thesis is that American education is indeed under siege, even ""in crisis,"" but unlike his colleague Allan Bloom he sees silver lingings rather than clouds. He recounts 20 years of classroom pleasures and frustrations; evaluates minutely his own flaws and virtues as an instructor; recalls student victories rather than defeats; and weaves humorous anecdotes out of austere ""occasions"" in the name of showing the resiliency of American education, and those who practice it. He also, unlike Bloom, makes practical recommendations for improving education: raising teachers' salaries; giving some of them tax breaks; forming a National Teachers' Corps, la the Peace Corps, to tackle the Big Problems. As for what and how to teach, Booth plays up the potential lessons of his own specialty--rhetoric--as a true life-subject, relating it, for example, to feminism and science. Finally, he reminds in an increasingly technical age of the crucial role of English as the last bastion of truly free critical thinking in the American university, and pleads for broader recognition among university officials of its central role in the curriculum. Smashing defense of a noble profession, and a brilliant program of ideas for America's educational future.