The Tastemakers

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by Russell Lynes. Harper and Brothers. $5.

Taste, says Mr. Lynes, who is managing editor of Harper’s Magazine, is “our personal delight, our private dilemma and our public facade.” No one, certainly, has written on this intricate subject more entertainingly or more profoundly than the creator of “Highbrow, Lowbrow, Middlebrow,” and Mr. Lynes takes his place beside the late Dixon Wecter and the late Frederick Lewis Alien as a first rank social historian. He has scanned the sources of our taste, private and public, from about 1830 to the present, and has created an extremely valuable survey of American art and architecture in its formative years.