Good coverage, sound reporting, but not personalized enough to strike a new note in a field where so many are before him. To be sure, Birchall outstayed them all in the gathering storm, but unfortunately he has not given as dramatic a picture of his experiences as one could have wished. As foreign correspondent for the N. Y. Times he spent eight of Europe's most critical years in the thick of things. The focus of his story is almost wholly on Germany and the ramifications of her ambitions, and he carries through to the attack on Poland, with the rapid annihilation of a country. There he has it -- so far -- over the other ""we-saw-it-happen boys"", and on this the news value of his book must rest.