When hearing the name Oswald Mosley most Americans (if they know it at all) will think of the handsome, blackshirted,...



When hearing the name Oswald Mosley most Americans (if they know it at all) will think of the handsome, blackshirted, Jew-baiting Englishman who caused a political ruckus as leader of the British Union of Fascists during the '30's and spent much of World War II in prison for his activities. What is not generally recognized or acknowledged, however, is that Mosley, although undeniably dissident and erratic politically, nevertheless built a brilliant parliamentary career in the '20's as a farsighted Labour backbencher who embraced Keynesian economic principles long before it was fashionable to do so; moreover, he proposed programs which sometimes forged ahead of Keynes himself. Now Mosley, no longer a Fascist but a self-professed ""European"" (""After the war I faced fresh facts, learnt from past mistakes""), gives us a firsthand summary of his mercurial fortunes and flip-floppy politics. There is, happily, a minimum of vainglorious rhetoric though the lifelong habit of contradiction and generally mussy sociopolitical thinking is still very much in evidence -- for instance he condemns contemporary ""violation of every true instinct of humanity"" but follows up with the unelaborated statement, ""If it rested with me, this practice would be abruptly and ruthlessly brought to an end with the utmost severity."" Likewise there are pathetically shallow attempts to gloss over or cover up past stains, e.g., he was not really anti-Semitic, but merely ""concerned with the possibility of a second world war if a boycott of German trade were organised."" Also, in typical autobiographical style, Mosley comments on the influential people he worked and socialized with (the list is prodigious -- Churchill, Asquith, Balfour, Lloyd George, MacDonald, Baldwin; his father-in-law Lord Curzon; writers and artists including Strachey, Wyndham Lewis, and of course Shaw and Wells) and while he is not always charitable (he calls Eleanor Roosevelt an ""exceptionally ugly woman"") neither is he vindictive. His peroration -- ""Policies for Present and Future"" -- sets forth a sad bundle of orthodox proposals and predictions concerning Anglo-European polity. Have no fear, this is ""my life"" -- not mein kampf.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 1972


Page Count: -

Publisher: Arlington House

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1972