IT is not easy to determine -1's Mr. Laurence Thompson's objective in compiling 1940 Year of Legend — Year of History (Collins. 30s.). The title suggests a special historical study, pointing to some particular lesson. In point of fact the book is more like a series of essays on separate events, which occurred during the year.
Why these were selected and others. of equal importance in the history of the war, omitted, is by no means clear.
Moreover no account of any event can be historically satisfactory without adequate reference to previous occurrences conditioning the event described. A detailed account of Noah's Ark, beginning with its grounding upon Ararat might bewilder a reader un. aware of how it got there.
The author has had access to a diary kept by the first Lord Halifax, "together with certain other papers". Nothing hitherto unknown seems to have been derived from this source. Few textual extracts are quoted.
If any matter. other than these quotations, has been used in amplification or contradiction of other authoritative views, it is a pity appropriate footnotes to that effect are missing.
The late Lord Halifax was a man of the highest honour and integrity, whose very qualities forbade him to reach hasty judgements or to take part in the ephemeral intrigue of modern party politics.
The dust-cover asserts that "Mr. Thompson's interpretations of events are likely to provoke fresh controversy." But the difficulty is to pin down what are Mr. Thompson's interpretations.
From the selected facts he marshals, an impression emerges that during 1940 all British Commanders and politicians — with the singular exception of Mr. Hore Belisha —were peculiarly futile.
Since, however, a similar impression is conveyed regarding the leaders of other nations concerned, including the Germans and Italians, the lesson taught may be that the country making the fewest mistakes in war wins in the end.
That is not a new idea. Where, anyway. is the "legend", unless it relates to Mr. Hore Belisha!