A revealing memoir by cultural historian Hughes (History, Univ. of Cal. at San Diego), author of several books including The Prisoners of Hope: The Silver Age of the Italian Jews (1983) and Sophisticated Rebels: The Political Culture of European Dissent, 1968-1987 (1988). Hughes writes of his early years of privileged upbringing within a prominent American legal family: European travel at age eight that would lead to his selected vocation as a historian of Europe; excellent academic background at Deerfield Academy (where he converted to socialism), Amherst, and Harvard; a professorship at Brown. During WW II, he was an OSS intelligence officer in Washington and North Africa, and then in Italy and France, where his ""personal diplomacy on behalf of the democratic left ended in failure."" Hughes reveals and regrets his naive pacifism of 1938, when he endorsed appeasement and the Munich Pact, and of late August 1939, when he continued to believe that war would not occur. Disillusioned in the State Department by cold-war policy, Hughes returned to academics and completed the highly regarded Consciousness and Society, as well as other works of intellectual history. Not merely an ivory-tower intellectual, Hughes passionately embraced some of the leading liberal issues of the day: the antinuclear (cochairman of SANE), anti-Vietnam, and feminist movements. In 1962, he waged a doomed but principled independent campaign for JFK's Senate seat in Massachusetts. Hughes summarizes his youthful ambition: ""I wanted to be an intellectual, and I wanted to be a man of good will. . .a cosmopolitan, polygot man of letters affiliated with the democratic Left."" This book largely bears out his success. A felicitously written memoir of an eminent intellectual discoursing engagingly on the major political and cultural issues and prominent thinkers of the last half century.