Midcentury Journey

by William Shirer. Farrar, Straus & Young, $3.50.
Mr. Shirer uses the impressions he gathered on a 1950 trip to Austria, Germany, France, and England as the starting point for an appraisal of where Europe stood at the midcentury mark, and how it got there. From the present, Shirer jumps back to the early twenties and works his way forward again, trying to see where things went wrong and why. There is nothing in Shirer’s book that will not be thoroughly familiar to any reader well up in contemporary European history; but those who are not, or whose memory needs refreshing, will find that Shirer serves their needs in a minimum of space and with a maximum of readability. He is a deft, likable reporter, who knows how to create interest without hopping up his prose or thundering his opinions. Having been a correspondent in Europe during a large part of the period he covers, he is able to give the historical parts of his book the feel of history directly experienced. Midcentury Journey is a Literary Guild selection.