Books: Fiddling in Old Rome

THE CONSPIRACY byJOHNHERSEY 274 pages. Knopf. $6.95.

To Tim Foote, Books Editor, from Otto Friedrich, book reviewer:

That Hersey novel is really pretty bad. It's about an unsuccessful conspiracy to murder Nero, but for some unfathomable reason he has chosen to write it entirely as a series of documents, mostly memos between two police officials known only as Tigellinus and Paenus. Even at times of high crisis they stop to send each other long memoranda in a kind of pseudo Latin, using terms like "the fourth night hour." And they consistently refer to...

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