The Flowering of New England, 1815-1865 By Van Wyck Brooks (New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, 550 pp., $4) Toward the end of the fine essay on Van Wyck Brooks printed in this issue, it seemed to me that Bernard Smith did less than justice to "The Flowering of New England." He might of course urge that he was discussing a literary career of almost thirty years, in which this new book was a single episode.
THE LATEST bargain-counter sale of the Van Sweringen railroad empire was made on April 24. Two days afterwards, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, the buyers became the subjects of a favorable publicity boom which possibly came to an end in exactly thirty days, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The subjects of the publicity were Robert R. Young and Frank F. Kolbe, New York Stock Exchange brokers who bought control of the $3,000,000,000, 23,000-mile railroad system. Young is the dominant partner.
The Physculter Parade, one of the three great demonstrations of the year, the other two being the May Day Parade and the anniversary of the October Revolution. The Arcade Building opposite the Kremlin is hung with great faces of Lenin and Stalin and with pictures of runners and hurdlers so crude that they would disgrace an American billboard. The slogan, “Ready for Labor and Defense!” The whole thing was quite different and more impressive than any American parade I had ever seen.
Lately we have heard a great deal about the conflict between "hungry" and "sated" nations. The phrase has been used to describe Mussolini's attack on Ethiopia, Japan's advance into Manchuria and North China, and Hitler's proposed penetration of east Europe. A ''hungry" nation means one without colonies producing raw materials, and this lack is supposed to drive it to eventual war. The image of a world separated into "hungry" and "sated" nations has been a favorite of Mussolini, Hitler and the Japanese blood brotherhoods.
Vidocq: The Personal Memoirs of the First Great Detective, edited and translated by Edwin Gile Rich. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 445 pages. $3. This condensed version of the famous detective’s memoirs starts off very well as an amusing picaresque story. Soon, however, it becomes the somber and rather dreary tale of Vidocq’s escapes while he was one of the hunted, and of his captures when he turned hunter himself. Apparently Vidocq cared more for the truthfulness of his story than for any possible adornments.
There Is No Truce: A Life of Thomas Mott Osborne, by Rudolph W. Chamberlain. New York: The Macmillan Company. 420 pages. $3.50. Osborne seemed to have been born under fortunate stars. To the inheritance of family, culture and wealth he added personal attractions and accomplishments and power over men. And yet the stars turned malign. “Few men,” says his biographer, “have ever been so unerring in their choice of the losing side.” Mr. Chamberlain brings out the secret of his constant defeat. He was Don Quixote with a streak of the playboy.
Tortilla Flat, by John Steinbeck. New York: Covici, Friede. $2.50. Not since the days of W. W. Jacobs, making his disarming characters out of scoundrels, has there been a book quite like this one. Both Jacobs and Steinbeck must have worked on the assumption that most of us, having a slice or two of Caspar Milquetoast in our systems or a streak that calls for out and out anarchy, are likely to revel in the antics of anyone getting away with what he shouldn’t. The Paisanos of Tortilla Flat get away with agreat deal in their tireless efforts to supply their gullets with red wine.
Europe: War or Peace? by Walter Duranty. Boston: World Peace Foundation. 47 pages. 50 cents. The Pipe Dream of Peace, by John W. Wheeler-Bennett. New York: William Morrow and Company. 318 pages. $3. Peace and the Plain Man, by Norman Angell. New York: Harper and Brothers. 344 pages. $2.50 The Price of Peace, by Frank H. Simonds. New York: Harper and Brothers. 380 pages. $3. The title of Mr. Duranty’s booklet, “Europe: War or Peace?” is a question that is asked today more anxiously than it was in 1914.