Books: Insane Years

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ROAD TO WAR—AMERICA: 1914-1917— Walter Millis—Houghton Mifflin ($3).

If intelligent people could be as wise before the fact as after it, few of them would be fooled into war hysteria. Many an intelligent oldster now feels less than proud, remembering the rabid slaverings of himself and the rest of the pack during the hue & cry of the World War. But in 20 years the world-at-large has forgotten how mad it was. Last week those who still had eyes to see and ears to hear were treated to the most dispassionate analysis yet rendered of how and why the U. S. was gradually sucked into Europe's dogfight. Even some statesmen now agree that the War was a bad job, ill conceived and worse executed; plain men every-where have long ago decided that its causes were not so simple nor its aims so noble as they were once given to believe. Author Millis, analyst of war psychology, who showed in The Martial Spirit that some wars could be reduced to the terms of comic opera, in Road to War reduces the greatest war yet fought to terms of fallible human nature.

Millis' fever chart of the U. S. war psychosis is carefully factual, but to unregenerate patriots it may seem pro-German, or at least anti-Ally. Says he: "The merits of the European struggle are beyond [the book's] scope, and it is no part of my purpose either to defend the German cause or to attack that of the Allies. Since it deals with an episode profoundly influenced by a passionate acceptance of the Entente case, much of it is necessarily devoted to a criticism of that case. . . ." Author Millis determinedly refrains from diagnosing the disease, but his unexpressed diagnosis is tacitly outspoken: the U. S. was maneuvered into the War against its will, partly by force of circumstance but largely by the most gigantic campaign of bamboozlement that ever fooled a nation. Many a U. S. patriot still believes that the U. S. patriotic rabies of 1917 was self-induced. Readers of Road to War will learn how badly mistaken they were. Analyst Millis isolates the infecting bacteria: British diplomacy, Allied propaganda, U. S. gullibility.

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