How is the United States really doing as a country? What practical steps could be taken to improve the national condition? Since the candidates for President are sidestepping many of the critical issues of the day, we are happy to report that this sturdy and wide-ranging paperback contains 32 essays by individuals who are united in their goal to make "an honest search for innovative and non-partisan solutions." All of the authors except three are directly affiliated with the New America Foundation and two-thirds of these essays were first published in the January 2003 or 2004 issues of The Atlantic Monthly. The thematic sections of the book are: broadening the middle class; rethinking taxes and governance; helping American families; reinventing education; a new health care paradigm; America's changing demographic landscape; testing our civic health; and America and the world.

Editor Ted Halstead has a juicy essay titled "Disfunctional Duopoly" where he takes to task the Republicans and Democrats for not serving the public well with their values or visions. Other standout essays are those by Michael Lind on the inequality of wealth and income in America; Michael Calabrese and Maya MacGuineas on spendthrift nation, Margaret Talbot on overflowing jails, Ray Boshara on the $6,000 solution, and Laurie Rubiner on the overtreated American. This thoughtful work addresses the thorny issues not being dealt with adequately in this election year.