MR. GATHORNE-HARDY has written an admirably condensed yet complete summary of international affairs during the years 1920 through 1934. No incident, phase or aspect has been neglected; the Near East, Asia and the Far East receive proportionate treatment to that given European affairs, but despite the mass of material close attention is paid to unity, with the result that, the book is possibly more of a narrative than an academic discussion.
Throughout the book runs the contention, most frequently merely hinted at, though every now and then stated bluntly, that post-war, diplomacy is less effectual than pre-war, and less commendable in that it claims loftier motives. The author's disillusionment with the League's handling of the chief disputes referred to it is amply justified. His description of the quarrel centering around the "Corfu" incident is eloquent testimony to the League's impotence where the Great Powers are concerned. His explanation of the Manchurian struggle is interesting and illuminating. All in all, his book can be heartily recommended to anyone: as a reference work for the student of international affairs, and as an admirable source of information for the layman.
Most interesting to the serious thinker will be the thesis, which the author develops subtly but with telling effect, as to the hypocrisy in the relations between the Powers because of the League's existence. Certainly the League is fighting a losing battle in trying to keep its head above water in an era so nationalistic as ours. Mr. Gathorne-Hardy has so completely lost faith in the League as an instrument for maintaining peace, that in attempting to appraise the situation in his last paragraph, he cannot even mention it by name!
"If," he writes, "our world does not possess the requisite courage and cohesion, then we had better abandon our dream of a warless future, and revert to the limited objective of 'peace in our time.' With such an end in view, we may still turn for counsel to the pre-War system. At its worst, it was less dangerous than a paper facade, which no nation trusts or fears. At present, it seems, nations which should trust are dominated by fear, and those which fear are emboldened. The peoples of the world seem at times to resemble a crowd in a small room, in the center of which one or two lunatics are playing with a bomb. Each one finds excuses for non-interference, and makes futile efforts to keep as far away as possible. Meanwhile the pin, slowly, but surely, is being loosened from the bomb."