The impact of this argument is not confused by polemic. There are no villains, little exploitation, just people with more or less good intentions, under pressure and in a hurry, who do not, or dare not, understand their place in history. Altogether the book encourages the belief that academics can contribute to the understanding of contemporary public affairs-but they will do this best if they look at the past before the present. Over a quarter of the book is devoted to the two Irish cases. Their analysis is illuminating. Gladstone perceived and was perplexed by most of the problems, including the crucial problem of taxation. Northern Ireland was, the author concludes, 'an experiment which deserved not to fail' (p. 73). There is a useful reminder that constitutional analysis must embrace the social and political context, for 'The only area of the United Kingdom where there have ever been constitutionally entrenched safe- guards against discrimination is also the only area in which discrimination was widely prevalent' (p. 51). A long chapter on the Scottish Office suggests how good that Office has been and how it might be much improved. 'The mainspring of the case for devolution to Scotland has little to do with the alleged "exploitation" of Scotland by England but consists of the need to re-establish a relationship which has been seriously undermined' (p. 89). This chapter on Scotland is valuable for the understanding of Wales, and particularly the nature of the Welsh Office. Mr. Bogdanor understands the peculiarities of Welsh nationalism, and has a nice appreciation of the close connections of some of Gwynfor Evans's philosophy 'with the main- stream of British conservative thought as represented by, for example, Burke, Scott, and Disraeli' (p. 129). Reviewing the recent history of Welsh government, he judges that 'an excellent chance to secure an all-Wales body was lost in the 1960's' (p. 142). The last third of the book is a careful analysis of the Scotland and Wales Acts. The parliamentary history of this legislation makes an excellent if depressing case study of the British parliament under pressure. Add to this the remarkable ways in which the Royal Commission and all the political parties hedged and trimmed their way towards, or away from, devolution and there is ample cause for doubting the British genius for politics. The confusions and weaknesses of the Acts are set out with impressive rigour. Mr. Bogdanor admits that arrangements which, viewed legalistically, would have been unworkable, might in practice have been operated through the customary processes of consultation and accommo- dation, backed by the pressures of the Scottish and Welsh electorates. 'Politically, devolution may be understood as the placing of a weapon in the hands of the Scots and Welsh' (p. 215). The book concludes that the schemes of devolution proposed for Scotland and Wales were inherently unstable, but might have evolved in a federal direction; and that in doing so they could have contributed to the solution of the more general problems of British government-centralisa- tion, overload, corporatism, alienation. 'If it is successful, devolution will, in the long run, give rise to a new style of politics in Britain, one based less upon party conflict and adversary politics than upon mutual accommoda- tion and bargaining between different layers of government' (p. 229).