It's surprising to see this novel back in print. Not only is it very dated today, it was dated when it was published back in 1977.
SF writer and historian Gunn was an English professor at the University of Kansas, and this novel is his response to the student radicals of the 1960s. He depicts a future United States in which revolution has become a way of life on campus. The students rule the roost, at least in theory, and carry on meaningless "revolutionary" activities, while living a life of drug-addled self indulgence. Learning is chemically administered, and professors hawk their classes like barkers at a carnival.
Student Tom Gavin is part of all this, until he meets a traditional professor who offers him real learning the old-fashioned way. Gavin eventually leaves the enclave of the "kampus", which is surrounded by a containment wall from which snipers periodically take aim at the students, and begins a journey west to Berkeley. His episodic quest takes him through a fragmented nation in which the old concepts of law and order no longer exist, although they are making a comeback in some regions. Gavin encounters familiar SF scenarios from the 70s such as group marriage, and eventually arrives in Berkeley to resolve his revolutionary quest.
While it's not exactly a conservative screed, it's a very argumentative piece, although Gunn manages to keep the plot rolling along briskly enough so that the story doesn't get too talky. The two major weaknesses are the dated subject matter (the radical student movement died out almost completely by 1972), and the lack of any character development for Tom Gavin, the protagonist. He remains a virtual cipher, although his love interest, Elaine, has some substance. Also, Gunn never paints a coherent picture of how the US has come to its current state; he offers a vague outline, but the logic of his future society is not entirely consistent.
It's an enjoyable work, but not as thought-provoking as it could be if it were more (dare I say it) relevant. If you haven't read Gunn before, I recommend "The Immortals", "The Joy Makers", or "The Listeners", which contain his best work.