Page 4, 25th November 1938

25th November 1938
Page 4
Page 4, 25th November 1938 — /1. R. P.

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Organisations: Left Book Club
Locations: London


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/1. R. P.

Professors Believe in Tunnels

A.R.P. By J. B. S. Haldane, F.R.S. (Left Book Club Edition, 2s. 6d.) Reviewed by FRANCIS BRAND

PROFESSOR HALDANE'S thesis is that of the various methods by which enemy aeroplanes can attack the civil population of England, the dropping of high explosive bombs is by far the most dangerous. He argues that gas and incendiary bombs are relatively subsidiary dangers, and that the Government's measures to protect us from these dangers are good, in theory at least. But against the greatest danger-high explosive bombs-Professor Haldane holds that the precautions so far suggested are useless.

Professor Haldane's criticism is not merely destructive; he puts forward a scheme which, he claims, will give complete security to the civilian population against high explosive bombs.

Tunnels should be dug 60 feet deep, lined with brick, concrete or steel. From evidence in Spain and from technical arguments, Professor Haldane concludes that these tunnels would afford complete protection against high explosive bombs. The cost of digging such tunnels for the entire population of London would he about £100,000,000. To dig them under all the cities of England would cost £400,000,000. This is about a quarter of the proposed Government expenditure on rearmament during the next three or four years. Professor Haldane suggests that such tunnels, giving 100 per cent. security for all against high explosive bombs, could be dug under the more vulnerable cities within some months.

Professor Haldane's detailed criticism of the Government's measures, such as dispersal of the population, cannot be adequately discussed here. But at least it must be said that this is an important book. Not being an expert I do not claim it is important on account .of the truth of Professor Haldane's thesis. The book is important because it is published under the auspices of the Left Book Club. It will doubtless have a wide circulation. It is sufficiently authoritative for the authorities to take notice of it. If the thesis is wrong the Government should put some one up to prove it so. If it is true, the Government (I suggest) should start building these tunnels. The worst policy for the Government would be to try and hush the whole matter up.

capable country girl. She loves and marries and lives to regret it. The husband is one of those plausible, shifty folk who, though mostly in trouble, yet ever survive it. He marries because of a legacy that Cassie, as yet unknowing, is to receive. He persuades her to buy a pub in one of the mining valleys. Already the shadow of disaster is over the mines, but for a few years they manage to make a success of the venture. But growing difficulties bring out the husband's shoddy side, so that Cassie, in self-defence, deserts him.

What Mr. Davies delights in, and what he does with great skill, is to depict a certain side of the Welsh character. There is no escaping the drabness and the gloom of people as he sees them. There is the excuse, so far as this book is concerned, of the economic crisis that led to the General Strike. But the gloom and drab

ness is deeper that that. Religion and morality may be very tiresome things, and those who profess to believe in them may be hollow shams, but even so, they seem to beget a cheerfulness and even a humanity that an advanced materialism never attains. We feel, as we read, that so much of life. even amongst the humblest and poorest and most forsaken,. is never envisaged. It is a limitation that hampers a book as it embitters lives.

Little need be said about The Tales of Algernon Blackwood, except that it is a very handsome volume in which they are reproduced. The stories were written between 1906 and 1910. Their peculiar brand of mystery and horror needs no specification. It is interesting to learn from the introduction that each story had some. even though a faint, foundation in fact. It is possible to doubt whether Mr. Blackwood's theory of "an expansion of normal consciousness" covers all the facts. though it probably covers a majority of them. It is difficult to accent John Silence's belief that he could accent into himself the evil powers that played unon him and turn them, through his own virtues. into something good. But these doubts do not lessen the excitements and exhilaration that the stories impart.

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