a German THE publishers have done a poor service to Count Kurt Bliicher's Know Your Germans (Chapman &Hall, 12s. 6d.) by giving it this catchpenny title and wrapping it in a cheap and vulgar-looking jacket. This is not, as one might expect. one of those rather distressing exercises in communal selfconfession that occasionally appear from German pens. It is a. finelywrittea and finely thought-out survey of the main trends in modern German history since Bismarck in which the author argues that the great Chancellor's character and
mistakes sowed the seeds of the subsequent tragedy. Bismarck was a i genius, but nations ! cannot afford li
geniuses to lead them for their errors of judging and valuing are multiplied a thousand-fold. Bismarck's amazing success in what to us is a relatively moderate " blood and iron " policy killed all political criticism among the politicallybackward Germans.
William 11 was a weak and vain rhetorician whose words sufficed to carry on the dream. Then came the defeat and the all-round mistakes of VeHrsiatliellres Count Blucher contends in a not wholly convincing argument. was never more than an emotionally unstable homeless tramp and outcast whorn like a roulette player, enjoyed an amazing run of luck. He rose to the top at the only moment of history when he could have done. and consolidated his power through a run of coincidences. But the only thing which he himself contributed tel the picture was his antiJew mania which defeated him in the end since it was the real reason why he attacked Russia instead of finishing off the West.
Count Blucher's indictment is spread pretty widely-against his own cottntrymen and against his country's enemies and judges. But he insists, we believe rightly. on the foolishness of supposing that the ordinary citizen, whether German or non-German, shares the guilt of his leaders. " Man must survive, and when only one brand of food is offered him he eats it because he has no choice."
DOM Hubert Van Zeller corn
pletes in We Sing While There's Voice Left (S heed & Ward, 8s, 6d.) the series of meditations and reflections on living a spiritual life in today's world which he began in We Die Standing Up.
The titles of his books, like the titles of the essays which fill them, proclaim him a first-class journalist, and there is much of the be columnist's approach to his subject. He is clear. crism broad in his range of life and always practical.
Occasionally one queries an observation as something of an ecclesiastical cliche (cannot sin if committed with discretion, be a good deal jollier than the spiritual writers allow?). and Fr. Van Zeller at times seems to make holiness selfrather than God-regarding; hut in this volume especially he carries the willing reader forward towards the goal, the way of contemplation. and offers valuable hints on the relationship between the Christian tradition and the pre-Christian traditions that are taught and practised in the East.
The little bibliography on page 186 will he invaluable to the inquirer-if he can obtain the writings mentioned !
FROM a carriage window on a train journey from Exeter to Waterloo Ralph Wighttrian views the countryside in Watching The Certain Things (Cassell, 9s.).
The voice of "Country Questions" and various others of those interesting radio programmes falls into print. The eyes of the west country farmer travel with the view as we. as it were. sitting in the opposite corner, are told of the different types of agriculture, the look of the various soils and their effect on crops, the method of tillage-the individual ability and knowledge of each farmer appearing in the state of his fields.
The Dorset farmer-pipe in hand no doubts-runs a critical and somewhat pessimistic eye over the landscape, fields and farmers. Old methods are compared with the new and opinions are given which are based on the experience of four generations. As the train jogs on (we are well provided with maps and some pictures) the layman is not drowned in technicalities but even told the colour of a Frisian cow.
THE anthropologist and the student of the culture of the Indians of Central Amerioa will be glad to have this first translation into English of the Sacred Rook of the Qiiich6 people of presentday Guatemala, Popo! Vuh (Hodge, I8s.).
But the careful introduction, giving a fascinating account df the work done by the Spanish missionaries since the 16th century in preserving the non-Christian traditions of their converts, and the literary beauty of this heroic text. with its Biblical analogies, probably due to later Christian influences, should arouse the interest of a wider circle of readers.
FR. Thomas McGlynn, an American Dominican sculptor whose photogenic features adorn the dust-wrapper of Vision of Fatima (Skeffington, 10s. 6d.) was commissioned by a commercial firm tn evolve a statue which would conform to " the description of the vision accredited to Lucy," and, luckier than most investigators, was admitted in 1947 to the intimacy of " Irma Dores," then a Dorothean Sister.
The result of the collaboration is illustrated in the frontispiece.
Very different from the white-andgold production now popular, it met with the approval of Lucy who
said Gosto-I like it. Many will agree with her while others will prefer previous attempts to convey the impression of a Vision of Light in terms of Plaster of Paris.
In a handsome volume Fr. Glynn
tells of his travels, and presents the phenomena of Fatima in a bright American " rendition."
THE Mercier Press has inaugu rated under the editorship of Fr. James, 0.F.M.Cap., a new series of little books analysing the chief aspects of the Spiritual Life. The first in the series is called Humility : The Foundation of the Spiritual Life and is written by Fr.
Canice. of the same order. The price is 6s. The requirements of Ireland are doubtless different from those of this country. For us, at least, thereis a need of brightly and topically written introductions to the old truths in which the writer does not forget that the Catholic himself too often harbours an undercurrent of scepticism and puzzlement derived from the world in which he lives.
The present volume is doubtless excellent of its kind, and excellent in particular in its full reliance on Scripture; but it remains dull and full of expressions which belong to a world more or less unknown to the man in the street, even the Catholic man in the street. Need we always talk of the " Angelic Doctor ?"
MGR. Ronald Knox-half way between the Knox whom we revere and the "Ronnie" whom we love-is out of "Slow Motion" and into "Top Gear" as he presents in Stimuli (Sheed & Ward, 10s. 6d.) a rich collection of the short sharp "goads " which prick us so agreeably in the Sunday Timeswhere. as elsewhere, " space is hard to come by " and " distention " is impossible. Many of us, neither scholars nor school girls, appreciate our mentor in the concise urbanity of his middle-mood. And we must be dull indeed if we can't do a little distention on our own behalf.
The Peabody Sisters of Salem, by Louise Hall Tharp (Harrap, 15s.) is a delightful biography built around the lives of Elizabeth, Mary and Sophia Peabody, and it also-gives a vivid picture of New England in the time of Horace Mann, Emerson, Hawthorne and Melville.
From girlhood the sisters had to earn their living and this they achieved largely by turning their parlour into a school. Indeed Flieabeth, in a way the most remarkable of the three, has a place in history as founder of the kindergarten in America. She also ran a one-woman publishing firm and bookshop and herself wrote transcendentalist and abolitionist essays. She was the literary one. Mary, the musical one, married Horace Mann (though it was Elizabeth who had a deep intellectual friendship with him): and Sophia, the painting one. married Nathaniel Hawthorne.