Skip to main content

A Briefer Comment

ISSUE:  Autumn 1940


Come Back to Erin, by Sean O’Faolain.

Avoiding the usual pattern of recent Irish novels about the “troubles,” this fine story tells more about the Irish character and Irish history than many a history could. The book is concerned with a gunman and his family; the story, which takes the reader to America as well as to Ireland, is engrossing. The writing is restrained, marked with genuinely poetic imagery, sensuous and strong.

Viking $2.60


Jackpot: The Stories of Erskine Caldwell.

A BUMPER collection of all the stories, including some hitherto unpublished, of the author known chiefly for “Tobacco Road.” Kach story is prefaced with a brief note by the author; unfortunately a childish hatred of literary crities and criticism, based on nothing that can be discovered in the notes themselves, is all that is expressed. The stories vary greatly in quality: many are mediocre, some are very good indeed.

Duell, Sloan $ Pearce $3


By the Waters of Babylon, by Robert Neumann.

USING the device of “The Bridge of San Luis Itey,” the author tells the story of the lives of a number of Jews from every stratum of life. A highly colored, violent story, told with vividness, irony, and even with frequent eloquence. There is no trace of attempts to whitewash a people who have been harried and killed in every land; the stories have the ring of truth told humanly as well as dramatically.

Simon <y Schuster $2.60

Doctor Dogbody’s Leg, by James Norman Hall.

THOSE who like a good yarn need look no further; here are ten of them, all whopping lies which glory in their mendacity. Here is something of Dickens, a good deal of Lever, and a thick slice of Marryat, all to explain how a retired British naval surgeon lost his larboard leg. Great fun and a lot of cockeyed history.

Little, Brown $2.60


Geese in the Forum, by Lawrence Edward Watkin.

A NOVEL of the campus that maintains an absurd—though by no means impossible — situation between the mildly amusing and the hilarious, describing how Education tries to mount its steed and ride off in all directions at once. Not to be taken too seriously.

Knopf $2.60


The. First to Awaken, by Granville Hicks with Richard Bennett.

PLATO’S “Republic,” More’s “Utopia,” and Bellamy’s “Looking Backward” in a 1940 version, completely mechanized and streamlined. The highly commendable zeal of the authors for a rational and humane social order may explain, but can hardly justify, cither the book they have produced or the kind of world they envision.  Modern Age $2.60


Mrs. Miniver, by Jan Struthcr.

MERE is a book that shines in this naughty world. It has flavor, personality, urbanity, graciousness, and humor. Comment is superfluous; this is a book to be read. Harcourt $2

OB The Best Short Stories of 10.1,0, edited by Edward J. O’Brien. A BETTER than average sample of Mr. O’Brien’s annuals. There are stories, more or less expected, by Hemingway, Caldwell, Earrcll, Jesse Stuart, Faulkner, Kay Boyle, and others; but the fresli note, the unusual, is struck by Hans Otto Storm in “The Two Deaths of Kaspar Rauscli,” a magnificent story. Houghton Mifflin $2.7ii


// Navy Second to None, by George T. Davis.

THIS is a solidly documented, ably presented account of the development of modern American naval policy. Mr, Davis looks somewhat askance at Kalian’s theory of sea power’s influence on history, considers Britain’s naval problems basically different from om own. and urges great caution in out building program. He finds thai “American people live in the safest country on the face of the earth.”

Harcourt $3.7o


German Economy, 1870-10.1,0, by Gus-  Ue*tU’x* Wave, by Haru Matsui.

tav Stolper.  A CHARMING account of the achieve-

A WORK of genuine scholarship, this   °f world citizenship by a woman

account of seventy years of German  who was horn Vl>nrc(i in » â„¢nvcn-

economic development is an important  t’ ””“1if intellectual, Japanese home,

contribution to the understanding of  Nottl,p ”-ast effective characteristic of

the prevailing Nazi system. The hook,  the volume is supplied by the illustra-

while not wholly eschewing politics,  tit),ls’ drawn by Eitaro Isbigaki, the

avoids for the most part typical po-  nuthor’s husband. Written with (lis-

lemics. It is not for this reason the less  criminating simplicity,

devastating. Reynal $ Hitchcock $3  Modem Age $2M

i  <

The World I Knew, by Louis Guiding.  Tuldivity and Diplomacy, by Oron

THE author of “Mr. Emmanuel,”  Jftm,sIIall!

“Magnolia Street,” and many other  TAKING England and Germany as

books has described the world as he  conspicuous examples, Professor Hale

knew it, because now it seems at least  H„ows t”o interrelation between di-

temporarily, if not permanently, lost,  plomncy and publicity between 1890

The book is a record of many travels,  work is both original

the writing of many books’: a life  nnd .scholarly.’ It is also timely. He

lived with zest and sentiment, but never  produced a thorough, detached,

maudlin or tearful. Viking $H  a »d most valuable study in the field of

propaganda analysis.

*  Appleton-Century $!, Shanghai: City for Sale, by Ernest

0. Hauser.  I

THE story of a city built for pluii-  A[Quaker Childhood, by Helen Thomas

der, dramatically and candidly written  1’bxner.

by a Shanghailander. It is a bloody  AX autobiographical narrative, written

and fabulous tale of white imperialism,  with exceptional simplicity, sincerity,

now drawing to an inauspicious end  and charm. Mrs. Flcxner was the

through a failure in judgment: the  youngest daughter in a large family

Japanese could not be bribed after all.  which, for all its doctrinal rigor,

The story throws revealing light on  consisted of positive and intelligent in-

the problem of the white man’s stake in  dividuals. Her hook is rich in its full

the Far East. Harcourt $3  and sympathetic characterizations; it

mi presents a chapter in the domestic history of America.  Yale $8 i

Mr. Pitt and America’s Birthright, by J. C. Long.

COMPETENT but scarcely distinguished workmanship, this is manifestly based on painstaking research. It fails to suggest with distinctness genuine historical insight. Nevertheless, the elder Pitt is of such peculiar interest to America—incidentally an aspect easily overstressed in a full-length life by an American author— that Mr. Long’s account deserves sympathetic attention.  Stokes $8.60


The People Talk, by Benjamin Appel.

HE traveled through the country and the cities and listened to people talk; this is the record of what he heard and saw. An impressive book, both for its diversity and the convincing ring of authenticity.  Button $8


M-Day, hy Leo M. Chcrnc. AN all-important factual pamphlet giving full information on what will happen when America mobilizes. There are three sections: on M-Day and the individual, the businessman, and the citizen.  Simon # Schuster $1


The Imperial Soviets, by Henry C. Wolfe.

THIS work, completed shortly before the German invasion of Holland, is a realistic and readable analysis of Soviet foreign policy. The author, without neglecting historical background, draws largely on his own impressions extending over a period of eighteen years. He believes Stalin is playing for stakes as large as Hitler’s and with probably more chance for ultimate success. Doubleday $2.60

The American Presidency, by Harold J. Laski.

A SERIOUS, sympathetic, but by no means uncritical study. The book is concerned not so much with policies as with the Presidency as an office or institution, especially with its possibilities for leadership in modern conditions. The analysis is highly stimulating. The style is decidedly facile. The manner is somewhat solemn.

Harper $2.60


The, Pulse of Democracy, by George Gallup and Saul F. Rae.

THE inside story of the Gallup poll: an explanation of the method used, a history of some of the most interesting investigations, together with replies to some of the criticisms which have been brought against it. Of considerable importance to students of public opinion, it docs not seem to have said the last word on the possible dangers of such an institution in the hands of persons not entirely trustworthy.

Simon c}’ Schuster $2.60


Polish Profde, by Princess Paul Sa-picha.

DAUGHTER of a New England family, educated at Vassar, Virgilia Ross married a Polish prince in 1938 and went to make her home at her husband’s feudal castle, already ravaged twice since 1018. Before she fled from the Germans last fall she found many reasons to question the good sense as well as the good will of those who have ruled the destinies of Europe since Versailles. A very interesting story with considerable material for thought.

Car rick cy Evan* $2.60


The Strategy of Terror, by Edmond Taylor.

AMONG the many books by foreign correspondents, here is one that deserves a place in the first rank. It

(Continued in advertising pages in the back.) (Continued from front advertising pages.)

deals with the real character of “the war of nerves,” as observed thoughtfully and as recorded in a diary by the head of the Paris Bureau of an important American newspaper. It is a serious, intelligent, restrained study.

Houghton Mifflin $2.60


They Wanted War, by Otto 1). Toli-schus.

MADE up of the Pulitzer Prizewinner’s dispatches and articles to The New York Times. Within the limitations imposed by the nature of the material, this is a good running history of the Nazi revolution, written without the sensation-mongering too common in newspapermen’s books. The author agrees with the thesis that Nazi-ism docs represent a direct menace to the security of the United States.

Reynal $ Hitchcock $8


As Steel Goes, . . ., by Robert It. It. Brooks.

BY one of America’s ablest writers in the field of unionization. The book includes the first-person stories of a steelworker and a union leader, the history of unionization in steel, the story of the victory of the unions in Aliquippa, and their defeat in Little Steel, and a general survey of collective bargaining in the steel industry today. An excellent book. Yale $3


Chart for Hough Water, by Waldo Frank.

A PASSIONATE statement of the thesis that the present world crisis involves Americans, too, and a plea for the return to the Great Tradition, a religion with emphasis on the dignity of man. Greatly condensed, this small book is not easy reading, but patient readers will find it much more profound than the usual run of recent pamphlets for our time.

Doubleday $1.76

The Politics of Democracy, by Pendleton Herring.

THIS book on “American parties in action” is a worthy successor of the author’s able studies of the practical workings of our governmental system. Tilings like propaganda, pressures, vested interests, machines, and patronage are treated with realism but without cynicism. The writing is dignified ; the outlook is progressive; the ml is engaging.  Norton $8.%


Into the Darkness, by Lothrop Stoddard.

THIS journalistic account of a four-months’ trip to wartime Germany ii easy flowing, and makes fairly entertaining reading. Its proclaimed objectivity at times definitely backfires.

Duell, Sloan ^ Pearce $2M

J’Accuse! by Andre Simon.

HERE is “the inside story of the mei who betrayed the French nation,” writ ten by a French journalist. It is a elaboration in detail of the Left thesil the men who caused France’s downfa were Bonnet, Laval, Daladier, Ileynaui Weygand, Chautemps, and others wf fought, in one way or another, tl Popular Front. The revelation is sei sational; there is, however, no possib way of checking the authenticity of th verv “inside” story at the present tira

Dial $2.6


The Long Watch in England, by Et gene and Arline Lohrke.

THE authors of “Night over England present, from their farm in Sussex, a: other American picture of the Englil scene. The post-Munich situatifl evokes an indictment of British leade ship and an admiration for the low classes that are reminiscent of t earlier book. The style displays t same tinge of preciosity. Holt

XVlll The Case for Federal Union, by W. B. (‘urn’.

READERS who, however reluctantly, found Mr. Strcit’s “Union Now” unconvincing will continue to feel similar doubts after reading this hook. However, the case is put with manifest sincerity and even with sonic humor. The writing is characterized hy unusual force and clarity.  Penguin 2i>c

The French Renaissance, hv Catherine E. Boyd.

HISTORIANS and teachers of the history of art will find this a particularly valuable collection on its subject. The plates are large and clear and each plate deals with some one of the variety of art forms connected with its period—manuscript illuminating, painting, sculpture, architecture, the woodcut. An interpretative and historical study connects the art forms with the social thought and conditions which produced them.

Boston Museum of Fine Arts -%~>.20

Masterpieces of Art, with an introduction by Walter Pach.

CATALOGUING an exhibit in so excellent a volume is one of the best achievements of the New York World’s hair for II)H). The exhibition, with the exception of about half a do/en paintings, is new. The volume reflects this newness with a better presentation and arrangement. There is more biographical material and larger plates than in the volume of last year, but many of the paintings reproduced are of a minor character. The inclusion of American painting and of work of the Nineteenth Century partially compensates for the absence of the primitives. Xew York World’s Fair 10.1,0 #7

Txcenty Centuries of Mexican Art, with an introduction by Antonio Castro Leal.

NORTH AM ERICANS may here sec the work of important artists working south of our borders. The book contains many sound examples of important Mexican art, from the early prc-Spanish sculptures to the contemporary paintings. The Mexican archc-ologist, Antonio Castro Leal, has done a great service in producing the stimulating preface to this collection. This is a superior presentation of an increasingly fascinating subject.

Museum of Modern Art $2.7ii

(leorge Caleb Bingham of Missouri, the Story of an Artist, by Albert Christ-Janer.

AN honest history of a meticulously honest minor artist whose reputation has been expanding in the current efforts to uncover an American tradition in painting. Mr, Christ-Janer is successful in avoiding the temptation to read into the art of Bingham virtues which do not exist then1. The illustrations are generous.  Dadd fl’/i

Introdiietion to Modem Art, by K. H. Ramsdcn.

CONTEMPORARY movements in art are considered with a philosophical bias. The thoughtful reader who has already a nodding acquaintance with the material will find it clarified al-: most in outline form. The illustrations* are expcrtlv selected hut awkwardly related to Hie text.  O.rford $1,76

The Prado, by Enriqucta Harris. WAR gives tragic emphasis to the value of this superb collection. This book, with its good plates, its history of the formation of The Prado, and its; historical summary of the assembling’ of each collection, is particularly serv-. iceahlc at such a moment. The plates

aw arc. from the Royal Collections and this limitation produces the only important flaw in the hook—the absence of anv quantity of canvases by Kl Greco.’  ’  Studio $4.60


The Feminine Fifties, by Fred Lewis Pattee.

DESCRIBING how the decade before the Civil War wns characterized by emotionalism and dominated hy women, Professor Pattee paints with humor and authority a scries of pictures which are always interesting and frequently ridiculous. Such phenomena of that incredible era as the Fox sisters, “Ten Nights in a Bar Room,” “The Gunmakcr of Moscow,” and the “scribbling women” arc held up delightfully for a generation which will probably refuse to believe in them. Exceptionally good reading.

Appletou-Centuri/ $8


The Art and Life of William Shakespeare, by Hazelton Spencer. AN up-to-the-minute compendium of Shakespeare’s life and writings. It is free from idle speculation and from abstruse inference. Its style is easy and delightful. Every student and every lover of Shakespeare will find the work invaluable, whether for thorough reading or for particular reference.  Harcourt $8


Minority Report, by Bernard DeVoto. THESE pieces are culled from Tin-Saturday Review of Literature and Harper’s Magazine; read as a book, they retain their freshness and stimulating vitality, but the testincss and professional attitude, of being ag’in things are made more emphatic.

Little, Brown $8.76


Curtain Calls, by Noel Coward.

IT IS nice to have more of Mr. Coward’s plays. Here are thirteen of varying caliber. The shorter pieces (“Tonight at 8:.’J0”) include such gems of Cowardism as “Fumed Oak” and “Family Album,” while the brilliant “Conversation Piece” among the longer plays is balanced by the somewhat dull “Point Valaine.” Mr. Coward’s works read quite as well as they play, and occasionally better. Donbleday $8.60


The Xciv Oxford Hook of F.nglish Verse, chosen and edited by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch.

ONE of the great anthologies, this is in the direct descent from Palgravc.’s. The repairs and the addition of a stone here and a tile, there, as its author hopes, has not altered its soundness or its beauty. The foreword is brave, but still a little testy, a little academic. But the whole is valuable and beautiful.

Oxford $8


Masters of the Drama, by John Gass-ncr.

THE author’s experience in the field of the drama has enabled him to unite the critical and the historical approaches in a manner both illuminating and entertaining. It is regrettable, however, that the urge towards mere “comprehensiveness” has led the author to attempt to include, a discussion of the drama in the Far East. In the Western tradition, Mr. Gassner is thoroughly at home. Random $8.76


The While Stranger, hy Kimball Flae-eus.

THIS second book of poetry by a young New Englander includes an ambitious three act verse play on the difficult and complex theme of Quetzal-

CDom coatl. It is competently, even skilfully, managed, but the play lacks the warmth and color of the lyrics which follow. The play naturally suffers from an evitahle comparison with “Conquistador,” but the lyrics stand firmly on their own feet.  Scribner’s $M0

Ronsard, Prince of Poets, by Morris Bishop.

WHEN the author is not drawn aside for antiquarian details, the story of the life of the chief of the Pl&ade lyricists goes very nicely indeed. The facts are here for the scholars, but the story is chiefly a thoroughly historical narrative (if one man’s life. Oxford $8


Country Squire in the White House, by John T. Flynn.

THIS is a scurrilous attack on President Roosevelt—on his words, his actions, and his motives. From elements of the strong case that all reasonable people recognize can he made against the New Deal, a case is made which is blindly biased, intemperate, and unfair.  Donbleday $1


Without Fear or Favor, bv Neil Mac-Neil.

THE assistant managing editor of The New York Times explains how a newspaper is put together. He discusses the work of all the staff members, the routine of organization, and includes a brief history of journalism in this country as well as a chapter on its future. A solid introduction for interested laymen.  Harcourt $8

of folk song in America. Representative of all New England, and dispensing with most of the usual scholarly paraphernalia, it contains 28 singing games, 3’t country dances, 17 sea chanties and fo’castle songs, and 77 ballads, folk songs, and ditties, most of them from authentic oral tradition.

Macmillan $0

Westward from Finland, by Hjalmar It. Holand.

THE title is adopted from a phrase in the inscription of the runic stone of Kensington, Minnesota, an exhaustive study of which occupies much of the book. The authenticity of this fourteenth century document the author establishes beyond doubt. A fresh item for research is the “mooring-stones” on the Minnesotan lakes. The presence of early Norse activities over a wide area adjacent to the Great Lakes is attested by the discovery of an undisturbed Viking grave at Beardmore, Ontario. Duell, Sloan Pearce $8

Science and Everyday Life, by J. B. S. Haldane.

CONTENDING that science can be made understandable to the ordinary man, Mr. Haldane demonstrates this point of view in a series of seventy short articles, ranging in subject matter from bread and ham to the planets and stars. In part he deals with the practical applications of science to problems that vitally concern the work-ingman, such as medical care, drugs, bad air, food, and heredity. If one can overlook the inevitable and sometimes strained Marxian moral which closes each essay, these articles may be. read with profit by all “ordinary men.”

Macmillan $2

Folk Songs of Old New England, collected and edited by Eloisc Hubbard Linscott.

THIS volume attests the growing vogue

The Story of the Pacific, by Hcndrik Willem van Loon.

THIS is not the best of van Loon, though it is very pleasant reading which debunks the desirability of the South Seas as a place to get away from it all. An easy way to pick up some facts, as well as a better idea of what our western ocean may mean in case of trouble. Full of delightful little sketches.  Harcourt $3


Roman Fountain, by Hugh Walpole.

A LITTLE about a fountain, a little more about Rome, and n great deal more about Hugh Walpole: the sort of thing that a gifted and successful writer turns out at odd moments as a sort of catch-all for some of the material he has been unable to use elsewhere. The quality fluctuates between excellent and just fair. Doubleday $2I>0


Economics for the Millions, by Henry Pratt Fairchild.

WRITTEN in the form of a glossary of economic terms and concepts, this is an attempt to explain very briefly and very simply what the study of economics is. Not at all abstract; a good job of producing a popularization of the socialistic point of view.

Modern Age $2.50


The United States Navy, by Merle Armitage.

BOTH handbook and history, well illustrated with sketches and photographs. The history is brief and concise without being too sketchy; the handbook, approved by the U. S. Navy department, is authoritative. The volume is striking in design, almost to the point of extravagance. Longmans $li


An Irish Journey, by Sean O’Faolfiin.

THE record of a trip “to rediscover that simpler, more racy Ireland of the people.” A first-rate travel book, unstrained, unpicturesquc, written with an easiness and chattiness of style that is delightful. The book is illustrated beautifully hy Paul Henry.

Longmans $SM0

Virginia: A Guide to the Old Domini ion, by the Federal Writers’ Project.i INTELLIGENT writing and editinj make this more valuable than a guide hook while keeping it expert as suebj The photography is lucid, strong, sig| uifit-ant; and the sentimental is rarely^ permitted. Liberalisin was the kcy^ note to parts of Virginia’s history andi the authors have not been too re-; struined to suggest its renewal and ap–plication to certain present problems*; This is one of the very best of the state! guides.  ’ Oxford $2M


Oriental Assembly, by T. E. Lawrence. A COLLECTION of Lawrence’s writings about the East, put together by his brother and well illustrated. It shows both Lawrence’s absorbing love of the East and the origin of that love in his historical interests. The book includes the suppressed introductory chapter to’ the “Seven Pillars.” * Dutton $3


Extra-Sensory Perception after Sixty Years, by J. B. Rhine, J. G. Pratt, C. E. Stuart, B. M. Smith and J. A. Greenwood.

THIS book does not deal with the problems of old age, although the title might be given that interpretation. Instead, the staff of the Duke University Laboratory of Parapsychology presents a summary of the method and duta of various E. S. P. investigations. Since it is too thorough and technical to appeal to the lay reader, the book will attract less attention thon have Rhine’s earlier volumes. Holt $2.71)


Hey wood Broun as He Seemed to Us,

THE stenographic record of the. Hey-wood Broun Memorial Meeting: a biographical commentary, twenty brief speeches, and a cartoon by Rollln* Kirby.  Random $1


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Recommended Reading