The Crimson Bookshelf
ONE'S COMPANY by Peter Fleming, Illustrated. 319 pp. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. $2.75.
THE publication of a new book of travel by Peter Fleming, author of that fascinating book "Brazlian Adventure," is sure to win its round of attention and applause among the circle of fireside travellers. "One's Company" is the tale of Fleming's recent seven months as journalist for the London "Times" and observer of international alignment along various sections of the Chinese-Russian front.
In his story of vicarious travel in the Far East, 26-year-old Oxonian Fleming first takes us along the outside rim of Red China, along the Trans-Siberian Express, from Moscow to Manchukuo. Fleming is immediately disarming as he announces that this is "a superficial account of an unsensational journey". His Anglo-Saxon honesty compels him to add "I dare say I could have made my half-baked conclusions on the major issue of the Far East sound convincing. But it is one thing to bore your readers and another to mislead them". Such frankness is, indeed, unusual; for it is apparent that there has become a surfeit of "authoritative" pronouncements on the Far Eastern situation by each visiting professor and casual tourist. By the length of his travels in Russia, Manchukuo and China, one feels that Fleming garnered more than his share of observation and information; for he stops to note the interesting paradox of Communism in the South of China, where he feels that Communism will never be stamped out entirely, for although it is contrary to the most powerful traditions of the sacredness of the family in China, it can never be driven out of the army as there it has an "almost impregnable position".
Everything considered, Peter Fleming has done a terse, honest, dramatic piece of reporting on the situation in the Far East. In spots, his writing approaches closer to literature than journalism.