The Bad Old Days

At the start of his account of “the anti-Communist purge under Truman and Eisenhower,” David Caute characterizes the first of these presidents as a “peppery little bustler”; a few pages later he finds it “tempting to condemn him as a hypocrite.” And that is just about all Caute tells us …

A Question of Confidence

Two books with nearly identical titles—one is a recent Book-of-the-Month Club selection, the other was scarcely noticed when it appeared a year and a half ago. Yet the latter is not only the more important but also the more readable. This conclusion, which crept up on me by surprise, besides …

The Cold War and Détente

With the publication of these two books, the debate on the origins of the cold war launched by the “revisionist” historians of the 1960s has been raised to a new level of courtesy, nuance, and scrupulous documentation. This is not to say that in emphasis and structure Harriman’s war memoirs …

They Don’t Make Them Like That Any More

Throughout my childhood and youth I suffered from being invariably identified as the grandson of one of the country’s most prominent citizens. It was an awkward situation, which I handled mostly by evasion: I counted it a triumph when I managed for a few days or weeks to make my …

Closing the Oppenheimer Case

The death of J. Robert Oppenheimer three years ago was bound to prompt another look at his already well-chronicled security hearing of 1954. Countless members of the American intellectual community recalled it as the episode that touched them most closely in an era of general political squalor—or perhaps, as the …

The Wasps

Digby Baltzell’s The Protestant Establishment has many virtues that lift it above the level we have come to expect in works of contemporary social and cultural analysis. It is clearly and convincingly written in plain English, rather than journalese or the jargon of social science. It is a real book: …

Mussolini

The career of Benito Mussolini and the Fascist regime that became almost indistinguishable from it seem at last to be emerging from undeserved obscurity. For nearly two decades after his death, Mussolini’s role in contemporary history was blurred, overshadowed by the memory of an inglorious end. The Italian dictator’s gradual …

Visible Men

It is no news to hear that we are living with a major Negro revolt. For years the foresighted have been warning us of what was going to happen, and we have no excuse for being distressed or surprised now that it is here. Indeed, many of us have welcomed …

Spengler

It is characteristic of Alfred Knopf’s loyalty to authors he has long esteemed to have reissued two of Spengler’s minor writings which have been out of print for ten years. In terms either of sales or of intrinsic merit, I question whether the books deserve such attention. They are dated, …