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The author of One (1953) and The Day of the Monkey (1955) looses an investigation into -- investigations -- at a personal rather than governmental level. With the establishing of the Institute for American Studies, which is to combat destructive forces with a rationale for enlightened and liberal conservatism, with plenty of money from Vincent Locke's fortune, Dr. Milo Burney names his terms as its head but his high level of administration is brought low when economist Ness is suggested as a candidate and incidents and associations in Ness' life divorce Burney from Locke and the others on the board. Ness' lawyer, Vircassian, is a sharp needled conscience with his belief in the principle of a fair trial, the right to be different, the right to dissent, the right to be wrong; Locke's wife turns against Burney; Locke uses detectives, wiretap and microtape to buttress his pursuit of Ness -- and Burney; all of Ness' family is drawn into the quicksand and Ness, from unwillingness to willingness to fight and back to withdrawing from the candidacy, takes the suicide way out. Another exchange with the Locke forces and Burney is ready to throw in with Vircassian and a citizen's committee of active protest against the ""anti-intellectual, antiliberal, anti-democratic, anti-American and anti-Christian"" treatment one little man underwent. A sensitive reading of climates of opinion, this charts the infection that reaches a high fever point when active persecution takes the place of reason and humanity. Argumentative.

Pub Date: Feb. 20th, 1955
Publisher: Knopf