Florida is a ''disjointed society . . . .'' Kentucky is ''diverse, genteel, and violent . . . .'' California is the most independent of the 50 states. Without exception, the homogenizing influence of television has failed to obliterate the individuality of the 50 states.
In the course of about 900 pages, authors Peirce and Hagstrom look at politics, leaders, and idiosyncrasies of each region. They find, for instance, that Utah has the strongest ties among religion, politics, and business. Kansas is the ''most extraordinarily ordinary place'' in America.
''The Book of America'' is a fitting new counterpart to John Gunther's ''Inside U.S.A.'' of decades ago. To get the most mileage out of this book, tour the chapters at your leisure. Then see if you agree with the authors: America is still in a ''state of becoming.''