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British society never recovered from the shock of the First World War. The immense sacrifices of that unexpected conflict drained away the best energies of the Empire, Torn by dissension in the 1920s, England was ill-prepared for the depression of the next decade, and its statesmen fumbled indecisively as a new diplomatic crisis loomed. The second war multiplied the damage of the first. The Empire slipped away, and the economic foundations of the state proved inadequate to the strains imposed upon it.
Few men were in a position to watch these changes as closely as the Prime Minister who succeeded Anthony Eden in 1957 after the disastrous failure of the Suez Expedition. HAROLD MACMILLAN’S WINDS OF CHANGE (Harper & Row, $10.00), the first volume of his memoirs, traces his career down to 1939. This leisurely account, like its author, lacks dramatic flair. But it is candid and thoughtful and provides an excellent insight into the problems of the decades between the wars.
Born into the famous publishing family, Macmillan studied at Eton and Oxford. In 1914 the war interrupted the even tenor of his life. He served as a matter of course and with distinction, being twice wounded. Then he made a good marriage and found a place in the family firm. Early on, he took an interest in politics and eventually stood for a seat in Parliament, to which he was elected in 1924. Through the period covered by this volume he was a backbencher, exceptionally well informed but without a direct influence on policy. He thus writes as an informed observer able to maintain some detachment from the events which this volume treats.
In the long perspective, foreign affairs appears the most important activity of those years. Macmillan gives a lucid account of the uncertainties that plagued the British government from 1935 onward as the totalitarian powers mounted their threat against the peace. Briefly while Anthony Eden was Foreign Secretary, there was a possibility of resistance before it was too late; but Eden himself was not bold, and he soon gave way to Lord Halifax and a group determined to appease Hitler and Mussolini. There is a vivid description, sympathetic yet fair, of Chamberlain’s desperate search for peace while the Nazis determined to make war. Reasonableness and a willingness to see the opponent’s side were sources of weakness. When Halifax was dealing with Hitler, his “sweet and Christian nature must have recoiled from this sort of barbarism; but he was too courteous to show his disgust.” He turned the other cheek. Together with American neutrality and the fear of another bloodbath, the very decency of ordinary men and women in the democracies was a fatal handicap.
Macmillan watched these developments with dismay. He was no appeaser, although he accepted the inaction which doomed the Spanish Republic and gave the fascists a critical triumph. On the other hand, he broke with his party on the issue of Abyssinia. In 1936, when Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland, he warned that drift was fatal and would lead to disaster. He evoked no response and watched helplessly as the cataclysm approached.
Domestic issues were no more tractable. Britain, like the rest of the world, suffered from a prolonged economic depression. Macmillan was a Conservative, but not one content with the status quo. He led a group of young parliamentarians who wished to jettison the old laissezfaire system. To restore prosperity, it was necessary to develop a central organization which would direct the flow of investment, and the government would have to take a positive role in the planning process. By no means radical, these proposals nevertheless went beyond the limits within which his party was willing to act.
Ironically, when Macmillan moved into 10 Downing Street two decades later, the same problems persisted; and neither he nor his predecessors had yet caught up to the solutions he had earlier advocated. It was not for want of knowledge but of will that the stagnation which still troubles the country set in.
Among those who commented in 1932 on one of Macmillan’s policy statements was John Maynard Keynes. Although these two men were in general agreement, Keynes thought that Macmillan’s proposals for developing the investment functions of the state were not bold enough and suggested that a rise of prices could come before increased business activity. The economist was even then developing the concepts which in 1936 would be published in his General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. That book stimulated a new way of looking at the problems of an industrial economy. It had immense influence throughout the world, but its effects were not the same in the United States and in Great Britain.
ROBERT LEKACHMAN’S THE AGE OF KEYNES (Random House, $6.00) is a clear and incisive account of the development of economic theory in the last three decades. This is not a conventional biography; it does not aim to compete with Roy Harrod’s masterful study. Lekachman’s analysis contains a good, brief account of Keynes as a person, of the world of Eton-Cambridge-Bloomsbury in which he lived, and of some of his public activities. But its focus is on the genesis and significance of Keynesian ideas. It is particularly noteworthy for a lucid explanation of the general theory.
More than half of the book goes beyond Keynes to an examination of the impact of his theory upon recent developments. The New Deal, the war, the problems of the peacetime economy and of economic growth test the validity of the Keynesian approach. The experience of the United States receives most of the attention of these sections. which aim to demonstrate that “the New Economics of the 1960s is the triumph of an idea. And the idea itself is above all the product of the creative genius of a single man —* John Maynard Keynes.”
Lekachman is a committed Keynesian and perhaps claims too much. The New Deal was, as he points out, already blundering toward deficit spending for pragmatic reasons before FDR knew about Keynesian theory. Nor did Keynes clearly anticipate the problems of growth characteristic of the 1950s and 1960s.
In any case, the New Economics has not solved Britain’s problems, although Keynes was as influential in the Old World as in the New. He provided statesmen with the means for understanding the mechanism of the modern productive system. But he could not supply them with the ability to use it.

THE ARTIST AND SOCIETY

Avarice is often an amiable weakness of the genius. His earnings are usually the visible manifestation of his connection with the outer world, the sign that he is being heard. Also, “the lack of money is the lack of time”; cash is the medium which purchases for the artist the leisure to do what he must.
Igor Stravinsky, who is a genius, has never concealed his desire for gain as well as for glory. Perhaps that accounts for the curious book in which he has collaborated, THEMES AND EPISODES by IGOR STRAVINSKY and ROBERT CRAFT (Knopf, $6.95) is a potpourri. Here are assembled a medley of pieces by the composer, by his wife, and by his longtime associate, the conductor Robert Craft. The various elements are thrown together, pretty much without order or form. Yet, surprisingly, they are worth reading; through them flash sparks of authentic genius.
Craft’s contributions consist of selections from a diary kept between 1945 and 1965 while he traveled about the world with Stravinsky. These observations derive their interest not only from the unusual people and places visited but also from the perceptive and lively style in which they are recorded.
The composer’s contributions are more varied; they include several lengthy book reviews, some correspondence and recollections, transcribed interviews, program notes on his own work, and stray comments and aphorisms. Altogether this is an improbable formula for a book, but the very lack of structure gives it a spontaneous candor. These are the reflections of a powerful personality. The sentences are struck off like the thoughts they express, without premeditation and with intense feeling. The judgments of contemporaries are bold yet judicious and deal with writers like T. S. Eliot and W. H. Auden as well as with musicians. Stravinsky has strong opinions about other composers and expresses them freely, yet his comments are the products of deeply held convictions rather than of rivalry. To conductors he is somewhat less generous — conducting, “like politics, rarely attracts original minds.” The grudging tone reflects the long-standing rivalry of composers and performers, as well as Stravinsky’s impatience with the plausible second-rate. “My first experience with Koussevitzky as a performer of my own music was his London execution — in the firing squad sense — of my Symphonies of Wind Instruments.”
In the last analysis, style rather than content holds the book together. Stravinsky has a finely tuned feeling for words. He writes with verve and discrimination, and a sharp, mordant wit bites through his prose.
Stravinsky is good, and he knows it. Neither self-doubt nor concern about society consumes his energy. True, the first great crisis of his career was the “loss of Russia and its language of words as well as of music.” But he learned to lead his life as an émigré, self-contained and detached; and that inner sufficiency added to his power.
It has always been difficult for American artists to do the same; even those who fled into exile bore with them a nagging concern with the society they could not abandon. Few have been able to turn that anxiety to creative use.
NORMAN MAILER’S CANNIBALS AND CHRISTIANS (Dial, $5.95) is also a melange. Like his earlier Advertisements for Myself, it consists of miscellaneous writings— two fragmentary short stories, some poetry, a few reviews, and interviews held together by a running explication in which Mailer attempts to justify himself and his intellectual position.
Mailer’s, however, is a minor talent which he never fully developed. His first novel was promising; since then he has been able to bring no other work to a satisfactory conclusion. His sensitivity erupts in jagged, unpointed fragments. The two short stories in this book show flashes of power, but add up to nothing and fit into nothing. His literary criticism is intensely personal and defensive.
Mailer is at his worst as a social critic — inaccurate, ill informed, and irresponsible. He longs for love and peace and finds sex and violence. He dreams of pure leaders and flies into a tantrum when they prove to be only Johnsons and Kennedys. He takes refuge in such fantasies as the vertical city, half a mile high, because he cannot tolerate reality. But his undisciplined urge to escape rarely becomes creative, any more than it does for TV or movie audiences. In the end, since the only choice before him is to be a foul old cannibal or a Christian dying of nausea, he must wish for the destruction of the world which will not conform to his fantasy.
The demand for perfection is characteristically American. In a society dedicated to the pursuit of interests other than their own, artists are often strangers, belligerently uncertain about the survival of their values in an unheeding world.
NEIL HARRIS, THE ARTIST IN AMERICAN SOCIETY (Braziller, $7.50), throws light on the formative years in which these attitudes took root. Based upon ingenious and original research, this thoughtful account explains the peculiar context in which art developed in the United States.
In the young republic, art was a luxury, suspect as a source of aristocratic corruption. It took almost a century to legitimatize the calling of the painter or sculptor, and the price of social recognition was the obligation to be useful. The creative personality won acceptance in a market economy insofar as he promised to contribute to its moral values, as the writer did. His function was to reform, elevate, and purify the community. He still labors under this burden, whether it takes the form of the social consciousness of the 1920s and 1930s or of the total disgust of the 1960s. In neither case can it substitute for talent.

OSWALD’S GHOST

Far from allaying the doubts about the assassinations in Dallas of President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald, the Warren Commission has only added further material to the controversy. No alternative to its theory seems as yet more plausible. Yet the voluminous information it gathered remains vulnerable to hostile criticism and has persuaded few but the already convinced.
Two recent books attack the Commission’s report and its conclusions. MARK LANE’S RUSH TO JUDGMENT (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, $5.95) is a lawyer’s brief for the defense. Lane, a New York attorney, had already expressed doubts about the case when Marguerite Oswald asked him to represent her son in December, 1963. The Commission refused to recognize him, and assigned another lawyer to act on Oswald’s behalf. It seems clear, however, that the counsel thus designated did not regard it as his task to defend the accused.
Lane, therefore, undertook his own investigation, the results of which appear in this volume. His book is a passionate denial of the Commission’s conclusions that all the shots were fired from behind the President’s car by a lone assassin.
Lane’s method is that of the crossexaminer who sets out to break down a prosecution case. The Warren Commission Report is indeed vulnerable. But the pyrotechnics of the courtroom do not always advance the knowledge of the truth. Lane frequently points to questions that the Commission did not ask. But he also, and less justifiably, scatters along the way innuendos that lack substantive support in the effort to implicate anti-Castro refugees or right-wing extremists.
THE OSWALD AFFAIR by LÉO SAUVAGE (World, $6.95) is a more temperate and therefore a more disturbing book. Sauvage, American correspondent for Le Figaro for eighteen years, writes with the intensity of the old-fashioned journalist in pursuit of a story. He has carefully examined all the evidence and has done so without Lane’s prejudgments. His arguments raise troubling questions not likely soon to be answered.
Sauvage shows that the Commission was primarily concerned to prove that Oswald alone was guilty and that it therefore overlooked leads that might have pointed to any other conclusion. One by one, he refutes the eight proofs of Oswald’s guilt proffered by the Warren Report. Yet Sauvage too concludes without an alternative explanation. And the suggestion of a new investigation is not likely to be fruitful. The tracks have been so thoroughly blurred in the years since the tragedy that we may never find either confirmation of Oswald’s guilt or the true assassin if Oswald was innocent.