Twenty-one stories by the distinguished novelist (Jack Gance, The American Ambassador, etc.), all originally published in the Atlantic Monthly and various literary reviews, deal with protagonists who struggle with one kind of political system or another: war, politics per se, marriages, or social pressures. Just writes like an insider who, even so, has the writer's skepticism about social and political clubbiness of any kind. About half of the pieces have also appeared in two previous story volumes--The Congressman Who Loved Flaubert (1973) and Honor, Power, Riches, Fame and the Love of Women (1979)--but the rest have never had book publication. In any event, all are solid, accomplished fictions, grounded in the public life: Just is an old-fashioned writer in the best sense of that term--the stories place people in situations where conscience, ethics, and morality almost always have significance--or where the lack of such significance is a central concern. A noteworthy collection.