The House of Europe
IN THE making of peace, how much do nations learn from experience? Are they capable of correcting errors of commission and omission whose dire consequences have presented them with catastrophe twice in a single generation? Any who imagine such questions academic should first contemplate the shenanigans at the preliminary peace meetings of the Big Five at London. They should then refresh their memories of what followed World War I by a sober study of Mr. Mowrer’s sanative pages.
Paul Scott Mowrer is one of the few American foreign correspondents whose experience of Europe began well in advance of the fateful August of 1914 and continued, almost without intermission, down through the late thirties. Thereafter, he occupied for several years the post of editor on the Chicago Daily News, whose foreign service he had helped to make famous, and whose galaxy of stars was long unmatched in the world of American journalism.
The House of Europe is an autobiography which takes the reader through Mr. Mowrer’s boyhood in the Middle West and through the quarter of a century in newspaper work abroad which followed. It halts with the rise of Hitler when the disintegration of the Versailles treaties and the rising clamor and threats of fascism, in Europe and Asia, sounded the prelude to disaster.
Herein lies its unique value for current readers. For the parallels are close between the world’s two greatest wars and the terrifying peace problems produced by both. In these pages the documentation of error and greed, of power politics and stupidity, of diplomatic guerrilla warfare and bad faith, is remorseless. Its impact upon the reader’s mind is the more formidable because the author does not labor his case in the slightest. He does not mention World War II, except to indicate its swift approach in his final chapters. He writes as a shrewd, factual, well-informed observer, who moves among the policy-makers and the peoples of Europe with assurance, with keen analytical powers and a skill at synthesis unmatched in his profession.
If Daniel Defoe were to be translated to the modern scene to take up his pen as an American foreign correspondent, one imagines that he would write the kind of prose one finds in The House of Europe. Mr. Mowrer goes beyond Defoe, however, in an important respect. His is a narrative of scrupulous fact. He is not championing a cause. Rather he is correcting historical perspectives — on French policy, for instance, and on the delusions which have beset our own.
JAMES H. POWERS