Books: Fat, Smug, Complacent

COMPLACENT DICTATOR (319 pp.)—Sir Samuel Hoare—Knopf ($3.50).

"It is appalling," grumbled H. G. Wells, "that this blinkered, pleasant, gossipy, gullible snob," Sir Samuel Hoare should be named British Ambassador to Spain. Wells was not the only one to wince. The nauseous memory of the Hoare-Laval Deal to appease Mussolini (1935) was still fresh. That of the Hitler-sweetening at Munich was even fresher. In 1940 Britain needed someone to talk straight, not sweet, to Spain's Franco. Sir Samuel hardly seemed the man. He had passed "from experience to experience, like Boccaccio's virgin," said a wag, "without discernible effect upon his condition."

Judged by this...

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