""Our elementary, secondary, and higher education sectors are getting better, just not as rapidly or as completely as we would like."" This guardedly optimistic assessment of the last century of American education characterizes Graham's erudite consideration of our nation's public schools. As an educator whose 50-year career has taken her from teaching social studies in Dismal Swamp, Virginia, to the deanship of the Harvard faculty of education and the directorship of the National Institute of Education, Graham's ability to speak from direct experience, whether about the tension between theory and practice in curricular reform, the struggle to diversify schools, or the effects of research funding on higher education, makes for a consistently engaging read, even if the topics discussed, on the surface, sound dry. Although her opinions on how America's educational system can improve seep into the writing, these are less central to the book than her lively retelling of developments in the public school system since 1900. Whether or not one shares her commitment to diversity and vision of education's role in shaping society, the historical material here will be of great interest to professional educators, policymakers and parents of school-age children.