- Reviewed by
This is a dissertation, not a good one at that, and both reads and looks like one. One cannot help but wish the author had taken the trouble of rewriting it as a book for the satisfaction of both the eye and the intellect, corrected a multitude of typographical errors, cut out the name-dropping, the cliches, and the jargon. It deals in a general and extremely pedantic way with what it labels the conservative nationalistic novels (Leon Uris' Battle Cry, Harry Brown's A Walk in the Sun, John Hersey's A Bell for Adano, Irwin Shaw's The Young Lions, and Vincent McHugh's The Victory) and the antiintellectual novels (Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny and James Gould Cozzens' Guard of Honor). Norman Mailer, James Jones, and Joseph Heller, who are classified as liberal-progressive novelists, are dealt with at greater length. The discussion of these writers is neither deep, stimulating, nor challenging and is framed by long chapters of a very general nature which could advantageously have been summarized in half the words.
It was not necessary for this book to be of such a general and superficial nature despite the scope of its title. Much unnecessary and irrelevant material, which seems essentially there to show that the author has read other American writers, could be deleted and replaced by a serious discussion of the writers chosen. Because it is superifical, the book, of necessity, makes somewhat debatable statements that, without being completely false, are oversimplified enough to call into question the scholarship of the book. Not that there was no research. A selected bibliography on microcard (for convenience, or rather inconvenience) is provided with the book, although the text does not show the benefits of that accumulated knowledge.
The 498 pages of text are followed by 121 pages of notes and 60 pages of French translation of the English quotations found in the text. Like the bibliography, the index is on microcard.
This is a book that will be of use to students who cannot read English. For those who read English, books such as David Duke's Distant Obligations: Modem American Writers and Foreign Causes have much more to offer from the point of view of content as well as reading pleasure. [End Page 268]