The Atlantic Bookshelf: Conclusion

A wrap up of book reviews from Edward Weeks

NEXT month we shall review H. M. Tomlinson’s long-promised war novel, All Our Yesterdays. Meantime I have been reading three books in each of which there are fighting and bloodshed to a greater or lesser degree. Two years in France left me with an endless appetite for war books; it also predisposed me in favor of those which do not make war inspiring. Yet in this one cannot be consistent, for acts of courage were admittedly as much a part of the picture as the wounds and the degradation. Each of these three books seeks to emphasize courage.
In Marines and Others (Scribner, $3.00) Captain John W. Thomason, Jr., of the U. S. Marines, has brought together his third collection of short stories and line drawings, mostly devoted to the exploits of the troops with which he is serving to-day. Thomason’s is a graphic touch; his prose and illustrations together form a picture as highly colored as Kipling’s, though without the Englishman’s sense of sound and smell. I like ‘Love Story of a Marine’ and ‘Air Patrol’ the best of the group.
On the other hand, James Hopper in Medals of Honor (John Day, $3.00) is concerned with fact, not fiction — at any rate, the facts as they are remembered after a decade by twelve of the men who won the Congressional Medal of Honor in France. The author tracked these men to their homes of to-day; he saw what they are doing now, and by adroit questioning he brought into print the incredible things which they had once done at Cantigny or Château-Thierry. The contour of his chronicles may have been somewhat softened and exaggerated by time, but not much; here is courage, and a brutal taxing of man’s endurance that is harrowing to read. Those who were too young may think it boasting; those who were there know it for the heroic truth. Incidentally, the jacket of the book, by Rockwell Kent, is one of the best I have seen in some time.
’G.B.’ by W. F. Morris (Dodd, Mead, $2.50) does not properly belong among serious World War books, for it is a straightforward mystery novel in the romantic vein, which merely uses the recent war as its setting. This setting, however, is extremely vivid, and has all the qualities of a personal experience in its pictures of life among a group of men in a British cycle corps, both behind the lines and in action. The characters are neatly individualized, the story told with suavity, and the dialogue has professional excellence. If the plot were carried through as well as it promises, ‘G.B.' would be a masterly ‘thriller’ on a very high plane; but it falls back on a trick of dual personality and a series of escapes that do not quite carry conviction. As a picture of Englishmen at war it adds to our glossary and to our point of view. But its chief excuse for consideration here is as a reminder that authors can still unblushingly turn the war to romantic uses.