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The Green Room, Winter 1976

ISSUE:  Winter 1976

FROM the conference tables down at Foggy Bottom to the place where CIA men dwell, from the dreary briefing rooms Pentagon brass know so well, U.S.policy-makers daily assemble with their pointers raised on high. Yet there is some question about how the decision-makers arrive at their decisions and considerable reason to believe that the process is as much a matter of muddle as of method. U.S.government decision-making has long been a concern of Charles Maechling, Jr. Mr. Maechling had his first view of high-level decision-making in World War II when he was plucked off a cruiser in the South Atlantic and assigned for a year to the Joint Chiefs of Staff as one of the two secretaries to the Joint Staff Planners and Joint Logistics Committee. He assisted the planners of the Salerno, Gilbert Islands, Arakan and Normandy invasions and was the junior member of the military delegation to the Cairo conference. After graduating from law school (LL.B.1949 at the University of Virginia) and private law practice in New York and Washington, he joined the Kennedy administration and served from 1961 to 1967 on the politico-military staff of Secretary of State Dean Rusk and as staff director of the Special Group of the National Security Council, chaired by Averell Harriman. Before joining the University of Virginia Law faculty last year as a visiting professor, he engaged in more policy-watching as counsel to the governing board of the National science Foundation and various scientific committees. Mr. Maechling is convinced that policy-makers too often are influenced by their backgrounds and the shared assumptions of their colleagues. He advocates a new and more scientific approach in the reaching of decisions.

Like many other Americans, Stephen A. Garrett has, in his words, “become increasingly uneasy about what I see as popular complacency over the current arms situation. . . .any consideration of this situation necessarily leads to the conclusion that the times are far more dangerous than is generally conceded.” After receiving a Ph. international affairs from the University of Virginia in 1968, Mr. Garrett spent the next four years teaching political science at the American University of Beirut. Since 1972 he has been chairman of the Department of International Studies at the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies in Monterey, California. “I’m actually pleased that the name of our small Institute will grace your pages,” Mr. Garrett writes, “for I think we’re engaged in something which has considerable relevance to the unfolding situation in which the United States finds herself, that is, her fate bound up with that of others.” Mr. Garrett has recently completed a manuscript on the Vietnam debate and is working on another book about Eastern Europe.

To Alistair Cooke, the case constituted nothing less than A Generation on Trial; to others it was the American Dreyfus case; and to still others it was proof that the Communist enemy was indeed within. Even now, after more than a quarter of a century, the case of Alger Hiss sends an unsettled ripple through the American conscience. One whose conscience has long been troubled by the outcome of the case is David Levin, Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia. As he notes at the outset of his eloquent essay, it was not until 1970 that he really began to examine what happened to Hiss, and the more he examined, the more he became perturbed about the ordeals of the once distinguished American diplomat. “Ever since I majored in history and literature as an undergraduate [at Harvard], I have been interested in the literary criticism of factual writing, especially history, historical fiction and autobiography,” Mr. Levin notes. “Questions of form often help us to solve factual problems, as I believe they do in my study of autobiographies concerning the Hiss case, and in this kind of literature aesthetic judgment often depends on questions of fact and on reasoning about the evidence.” Mr. Levin is the author of History as Romantic Art: Bancroft, Prescott, Motley, and Parkman and In Defense of Historical Literature.He is currently working on a biography of Cotton Mather.

A native New Yorker, Edith Konecky was educated at New York University and Columbia. She is the mother of two sons and has published stories in Esquire, Mademoiselle, Cosmopolitan, Kenyan Review and The Massachusetts Review.Her first VQR story appeared in the Autumn 1970 issue. Her story, she says, is a chapter from a novel “about a girl who grows up in Flatbush, Brooklyn (as I did), in a well-to-do Jewish family (as mine was), in a time when most girls accepted “the way it was” (as Allegra and I did not). Only to that extent is the book autobiographical. It is a good example, however, of how little control a writer sometimes has over her own material. I set out to write a book about a spunky, precocious little girl whose spirit, by the time she begins to menstruate, is virtually slaughtered by the ordinary, commonplace circumstances of her life. But Allegra was too strong for me; there was no killing her.”

A native of Atlanta, Margaret Edwards now teaches American literature at the University of Vermont. She began writing short stories while attending Bryn Mawr College. After graduation she entered a writing program at Stanford and later transferred to that university’s Ph. D. program. She received both M.A.and Ph. D.degrees in English in 1971. “The Disappointment” is one of a series of bizarre tales which she is collecting into a book of stories entitled The Man Who Wrote Gems & Other Tales.Her VQR story was, she recalls, “composed in a setting more exotic than its plot. In fact I would like to thank Mrs. Clifford West for providing me with a time and a place for reflection on her island near Savannah. Whenever I felt “stuck” in the story, I would walk through her forests of palmettos and moss-hung cypress . . .listening to hawks and kingfishers.”

Another member of the University of Vermont faculty is represented in this issue. He is T. Alan Broughton, director of Vermont’s Writers’ Workshop Program. The versatile Mr. Broughton writes both poems and short stories. Last year alone, he published two books of poems, In the Face of Descent and May Day, and a book of narrative poems and short stories, The Man on the Moon.In addition to winning second prize in VQR’s 1974 Emily Clark Balch poetry contest, Mr. Broughton also has a short story scheduled to appear in a forthcoming issue of this magazine.

Peter Cooley moved last year from frigid Green Bay, Wisconsin, to anything-but-frigid New Orleans, where he is now teaching creative writing at Tulane University. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Yale Review, Shenandoah, New Republic, The New Yorker, Esquire and Harper’s.A native Midwesterner, Mr. Cooley received his Ph. from the University of Iowa, where he participated in its Writers’ Workshop. He is poetry editor of North American Review.

Ira Sadoff is poetry editor of The Antioch Review.His first collection of poems, Settling Down, was published by Houghton Mifflin last year. The Vermeer poems are from a series of poems and prose poems on paintings.

A professor of English at Boston University, Millicent Bell is the author of Hawthorne’s View of the Artist and Edith Wharton and Henry James.Her articles and reviews have appeared in such publications as the Partisan Review, Sewanee Review, Saturday Review, New Republic and The New York Times.

Carl N. Degler won the Pulitzer Prize, the Bancroft Prize and was co-winner of the Beveridge Prize of the American Historical Association for his book, Neither Black Nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States, published in 1971.He is also the author of Out of Our Past and The Other South: Southern Dissenters in the Nineteenth Century. Mr. Degler teaches Southern history and the history of women at Stanford University. He is currently working on a history of women and the family in the United States since the Revolution.

Gary H. Lindberg is a member of the English faculty at the University of New Hampshire. Long an admirer of Edith Wharton’s work, he is the author of Edith Wharton and the Novel of Manners, published by the University Press of Virginia last year. He is now writing a book on the role of the confidence man in American literature.

Jane Barnes Casey is the author of a novel, I, Krupskaya and a graduate of Radcliffe. She is married to John Casey, also a writer and teacher of creative writing at the University of Virginia. The Caseys have two children.

Lindsay Nolting; learned first-hand about Mary Cassatt while studying art in Paris. She is a painter, who lives in the country between Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia, “workingon landscapes.”

Panthea Reid Broughton is an associate professor of English at LSU.She is the author of William Faulkner: The Abstract and the Actual and is presently working on a book on Walker Percy.

Charles B. Dew teaches Southern history at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he is professor of history. He is the author of Ironmaker to the Confederacy: Joseph R.Anderson and the Tredegar Iron Works, He is on leave during this academic year to complete a study of black ironworkers in the antebellum and postwar South.


Advisory Editors William S. Weedon Ian Stevenson W. W. Abbot Robert Jennings Harris J. C. Levenson Roger Shattuck Elisabeth R. Aaron, Business Manager

A National Journal of Literature and Discussion published since 1!)25 in January, April, July, and October. Subscription rates; one year, $7, 00; two years, $12.00; three years, $15.00.Canadian postage, 50 cents a year; foreign postage $1 a year. Single copies, $2.00.Title page and annual index available in November.

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