Europe Since 1918

by Herbert Adams Gibbons. New York and London: The Century Co. 1923. 12mo. xvi + 622 pp. $3.00.
THIS book may be described as a compendium of after-war controversies. Its theme begins with the Armistice of November 1918, and terminates with a chapter entitled ‘The Next Move in the International Game.’ Altogether there are thirty of these chapter headings and they form a pretty exhaustive compilation of the world’s major political ailments. Under them the author provides the reader with an exegesis of capital errors in statesmanship, for which he finds abundant illustrative material in the history of the last five years. He writes with strong convictions and at times with a zest of indignation that approaches invective; he makes statements provocative of discussion; his book is the reverse of colorless in matters of opinion, despite the well-worn topics with which it deals; but he rides no hobby and his judgments have the balance that comes from a wide knowledge.
Mr. Gibbons has studied Europe’s problems upon the ground since long before the war, as a correspondent and a teacher abroad, and as a writer of books upon foreign politics. His present volume carries the weight of long observation and mature thinking. Many ocean passages have not washed the starch out of his Americanism, and while he does not minimize our own equation of error in dealing with other countries, he keeps a sturdy foothold in the United States. There is no patronizing cosmopolitanism in his attitude. He indulges in no mournful condemnation of our course toward Europe and avoids political sentimentalism in general, although he is acutely conscious of the need of international solidarity and his constructive proposals — for instance a concluding sentence in which he says that the great cause of war in our generation is ‘ inequality in trade, colonization, and investment opportunities among Powers of equal size, strength, standard of living, and productive capacity’—call for a large measure of national self-renunciation.
Some chapters, especially those describing the Peace Conference and the treaties, bristle with points of sore controversy, and apostles of President Wilson will disagree with certain of the author’s positions. The volume is dated from Princeton and is written by a holder of Princeton degrees, but this degree of association has not begotten community of doctrine with the University’s former president. Near-Eastern issues are handled with intimate knowledge, for the author lived several years at Constantinople. The policies of France receive sympathetic treatment, — the author is a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, — but he reluctantly concludes that she has, by seizing the Ruhr, lessened Germany’s capacity for Reparations, weakened the political situation of France and Belgium in post-bellum Europe, and hurt her ‘prestige as a chivalrous nation, scrupulous in her treatment of the civilian population at her mercy, and rigorous in her observance of international law and the elementary principles of justice.'
In discussing Interallied debts, after quoting the familiar proverb ‘ Your money lend and lose a friend.’ Mr. Gibbons points out that the victorious European Powers appropriated very considerable assets after the war, of which the United States took no share; still, cancellation may serve to promote both business and peace.
Upon the whole the book is probably the most up-to-date, clear, and comprehensive account of the great international issues of the moment and their immediate historical background.
These reviews will be reprinted separately in pamphlet form. Copies may be had by any librarian, without charge, on application to the Atlantic Monthly, 8 Arlington St., Boston. For ten or more copies there is a charge of one cent per copy.