THIS “cautionary tale,” written in the midst of World War II, is a fantasy of World War III, which is imagined as opening in 1945 with a German blitzkrieg attack from Mexican bases on United States forces concentrated in Arizona for experimental maneuvers. The Germans, having won the present war and overthrown the British Empire by use of a secret weapon against which no defense can be devised in time, induce the United States to accept a bearable compromise and an alliance of the sort made with Stalin in 1939—an arrangement intended solely to provide them with a convenient interval for preparing our sudden and utter destruction.
The author’s purpose is, of course, to exhibit the consequences of a premature peace without victory, a peace of appeasement, and she does it by showing the morally and materially disastrous condition of the world that has succumbed to that temptation. The fable glitters with the high polish that everyone expects in pages by the author of The Edwardiana. Nevertheless, it strikes at least one reader as being an almost completely gratuitous performance, and that for three reasons. First, the story is essentially a sequel to events that the author does not expect to occur and that the reader is not asked or desired to expect. Secondly, the sermon is wasted on the world in its present state of mind, for its general purport is the one lesson that all have learned who have it in them to learn anything. Finally, the warning is in terms the least likely to reach — or, reaching, to affect — those who need it. W. F.