LOOKING BEHIND THE CENSORSHIPS, by Eugene J. Young, J. B. Lippincott Company, 1938, 353 pages, $8.00
ON the front cover of Eugene Young's new book is outlined a pair of scissors. These scissors have a double significance; they describe what has happened to most of the foreign news before it reaches the hands of Mr. Young in his capacity of Cable Editor of the New York Times, and also represent how the author has cut apart the vast layer of propaganda to get at the truth of the foreign situation. "Looking Behind the Censorships" does much more than present the difficulties of the foreign news hawk, it attempts to get at the bottom of the maze of events abroad, and expounds in the process some surprising conclusions which the author has drawn from his vast sources of information.
Starting with a description of the "canned news" system used by almost every nation to manipulate its news for the world, Mr. Young, in a highly readable and interesting style, goes on to reveal the workings of the international game during the past decade. By an amazing ability to eliminate the non-essentials, the author connects all the high spots of recent years in a coherent pattern, at the same time passing judgment on many fallacies and legends that have grown up. The result is that the politics of the world seem to be a relatively simple matter, perhaps too simple.
Among the most startling aspects of the book is the author's treatment of Mussolini and Hitler. The absolute authority of Il Duce in Italy is emphatically denied. The power of the royalist elements, the Vatican, and the army under Badoglio are so strongly emphasized that poor Benito appears to be merely a rather weak prime minister. Here, it seems, Mr. Young has jumped overboard trying to prove his case. As for Hitler, it is claimed that he was deified by the German people when Hindenburg was no longer adequate as a god. Unity in the Reich is a myth; Germany today is a struggle of leaders and factions for power.
This book is not a modern example of learned historical writing; rather it is written to be interesting and understandable to the general newspaper public. In this respect it succeeds admirably, but as such it sometimes tends toward sensationalism and over-simplification. Its main contribution, however, is that it succeeds in clarifying the recent events and reveals the fundamental issues over which each country is most concerned.