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Literally hundreds of aspiring journalists have stowed their typewriters aboard the Pan American clippers and hurried south to help feed America's latest fad, Good Neighborliness. With English-Spanish dictionaries in one hand and the coattails of some minor official in the other, these writers have garnered material for thousands of "fresh from the pampas" articles and books. Director of the Committee on Cultural Relations with South America for fifteen years, Hubert Herring is not one of these new-found-friends of the South.
Unhampered by the naive Guntherian belief that one can best understand a foreign continent from a detailed observation of the idiosyncrasies of the more important political figures, Mr. Herring has left the state buildings to mingle with "textile workers, scholars, bartenders, bootblacks, priests, schoolteachers, shopkeepers, and boys on the street." He points to the influence of their Spanish background, estimates the power of the Catbolic Church and the German and Japanese fifth columus, and fully develops the economic and political situations of the ABC countries in particular. He warns that the proletarians and growing middle classes are pro-American, but that the feudal aristocracies with some of the intelligentsia will sell out like Fritz Thyssen to Fascism. Herring writes with understanding, objectivity, and candor; and though his style is the beautiful prose of the scholar of language and literature, he is no effervescent schoolmarm gushing about the strange scenery of foreign shores.
Clearly stated is the South American fear that German imperialism will be escaped only to be replaced by a Good Neighbor growing his old Uncle Shylock whiskers. Frankin Roosevelt is liked, but Theodore is not forgotten. Herring condemns the burgeoning official propaganda agencies which are making Good Neighborliness as obnoxious as a radio commercial plug, and he urges more movies like "The Great Dictator" and "The Mortal Storm" along with wider distribution of American magazines translated into southern tongues. He also condemns the proponents of the American Century, whose ill-concealed imperialism turns against us the very people we most need for friends in any plan of American defense. We must appreciate the South American nations with the kindly insight of Archibald MacLeish, not with a Kipling's rapacious eagerness for the white man's burden. No better guide for such insight can be found than this well-balalnced volume.
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