According to the late Soviet writer Konstantin Pauslovsky, whose appreciation is included here among others in the appendix, Isaac Babel once remarked to him: "". . . a writer can't mumble--he has to shout at the top of his voice."" Babel's concern with the efficiency and affective quality of words produced a body of short stories which have been compared with Chekov, also with the art of de Maupassant and early Hemingway, plus the added illumination of a pervasive compassion. A compulsive, tireless rewriter, who was apt to ""hide out"" in the homes of friends, Babel fortunately left a trail of manuscripts before his tragic disappearance in Stalinist Russia in 1939. Now that Babel has been officially ""reinstated,"" bits and scraps are being brought forth by diplomatic detective work. Of this material, most appeared in periodicals of the 1920's. Some of the stories have been published here previously including ""The Jewess,"" the brilliant and moving account of the fragile tenacity of old ways in a new society. Babel was fascinated by calm, sometimes polite, almost companionable and easy executions, the meaningless deaths of war. They empathetically touch on the outraged decency of humanity. Vignettes, diary excerpts, sketches and stories--all have the dazzling simplicity of genius.