Prophets of Yesterday is a cultural history of 60 years preceding the first World War. If Masur, a German and now a U.S. citizen, is attempting a thematic history in the Spengler or Toynbee manner, to explain the explosions of the 20th century, he is unsuccessful. It seems virtually impossible to fathom his overall concept. On the other hand, his pen portraits of key figures of this period are brilliant. For a good example, read his summing up of the Spanish thinker, Miguel de Unamuno, or Stefam George, German symbolist. Sometimes his choice of formative or typical figures seems capricious. Why, for example, in an intellectual history, select Oscar Wilde, while omitting many outstanding theologians and scientists. With discretion this book can be used as a reference book on individual figures; but as a comprehensive thesis it leaves much to be desired. Masur has published other historical works, the chief one a being a life of Simon Bolivar. But this book of broader scope seems alien to his gifts.