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REVIEWS THE HERO AS ENGINEER" F. H. UNDERHILL Everywhere in the United States one can see signs of a revival of conservatism. Last November it brought a conservative president to the White House again after twenty years of New Dealism. But the revival goes much further than that. While conservatism had dominated American politics and business in the post-war decade of tlte 1920's, it is evident that in American intellectual and cultural life generally the whole generation from the 1890's to the 1930's had been in revolt. Now it is the rest of the world in Europe and Asia which is in upheaval, while America has become the great conservative community of the mid-twentieth century. American historians at the meetings of their learned societies now hold sessions on the new vogue for conservatism in historical and political writing. All this gives a special interest to the career of the last conservative president. And Mr. Hoover has just published three stout volumes of memoirs which are clearly intended to be an apologia pro vita sua. He has provided more material, perhaps, than he intended whicb the discerning reader can use in forming a judgment on the adequacy of a conservative phil060phy in our present age of crisis. The three volumes were written bit by bit at various times from the middle of World War I to the present. Volume I, which deals with his life as an engineer down to 1914---he was just forty years old in August, 1914---and with his administration of Belgian relief during the war, is by far the most attractive of the three. It is written mostly by a comparatively young man, at the height of his powers, proud of his profession and its beneficent function in tbe modern world, proud of the humanitarian services of America during the war. Volume II is on his career as a public administrator under Harding and Coolidge and as president. It is more in the nature of a trustee's accounting of his trusteeship, piling up the factual evidence of his constructive activities. Volume III is about the crisis of the Depression. In a bitter argumentative spirit Mr. Hoover fights all his old fights over again to prove that he was right and his critics wrong, that if his countrymen had only followed him in his efforts to save "the American system" their condition would have been much better than it became when they were bewitched by the false doctrines imported from Europe *The Memoirs of Herhert Hoover: Years 0/ Adventure, 1874-1920.. The Cabinet and the Presidency, 1920- 1933; The Great Depression, 1929- 1941. New York: The Macmillan Company [Toronto: The Macmillan Company of Canada Limited]. 195 1; 1952; 1952. Pp. xii, 496; xiv, 405; xvi, 503. $5.75; $6.25; $5.75. 84 REVIEWS 85 by Roosevelt and his Brain Trust. This last volume is anything but attractive. Everyone is out of step but our Herby. His sour selfrighteousness repels the reader. It never occurs to him that there might possibly be some deficiencies in the intellectual and spiritual resources which he brought to the overwhelming task of meeting the Depression. Indeed, the intellectual historian of the future will find volumes II and III a veritable gold mine of delectable quotations when he is looking for illustrations of the limitations of the engineering mind in the chaos of the second quarter of the twentieth century. Mr. Hoover is proud of his profession of engineering. His honesty, and his contempt for the low moral standards of American speculative investment bankers in the 1920's, make one sorry that he never seems to have read Veblen on the subject of engineers and financiers. He is always snorting with impatience at the bureaucrats, with their organization charts and their piles of paper. And his own early career justifies his praise of engineering as a creative profession. Within my lifetime engineering has been transformed from a trade into a profession. It was the American universities that took engineering away from rulewof-thumb-surveyors, mechanics and Cornish foremen, and lifted it into the realm of application of science, wider learning in the humanities with the higher...


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