by Herbert L. Matthews ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 1, 1971
. . . And when the fakers are all dead they will read Matthews in the schools to find out what really happened,"" wrote Hemingway in 1938. ""I hope his office will keep some uncut copies of his dispatches in case he dies."" The uncut versions of Matthews' Spanish Civil War reportage appear in this review of his career (he retired from the New York Times in 1967 after 45 years), along with tales of India during World War II (he takes credit for predicting Hindu-Moslem strife and absolves the British) and French politics and postwar Britain (including a transcript of a 1948 talk between Bevin and Arthur Sulzberger about the Zionist question) and the Allied Riviera Landing in 1944 and a remarkably shallow section on Latin America. As for Cuba, Matthews is pretty magnanimous: the Establishment which trusted him to clue them on Castro may have felt betrayed, but Matthews doesn't feel betrayed by their imprecations on the subject, only disappointed that they all haven't recognized how wholesome Cuban Communism is. He also saw the coexisting side of Chinese Communism sooner than other liberals. He calls himself a classical liberal, however, which is exactly what he isn't. He is a liberal pragmatist, like Lincoln Steffens, who smiled alike on Lenin and Mussolini. Though you can't really glean it from this book, Matthews too was soft on Mussolini till the Ethiopian War he graphically describes, and his remembrances of the Cortesis and of Anne McCormick in effect minimize or explain away their pro-Fascism. No ""old-fashioned liberal"" could admire the austerity measures and the repression of the Castelo Branco-Campos regime Matthews praises; even without Matthews' explicit valedictory comment that ""Fascism as well as Communism may be all right for some countries,"" it is clear that his politically myopic pragmatism could lead him to the same defense of ""order"" he exposed on the part of Franco's forces. As a journalist, Matthews' strong points are honesty and simplicity; his journalistic accomplishments, fueled by the former, come through in some approximation; but the latter is much in evidence as far as the book pretends to punditry.
Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1971
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1971
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