In these ""occasional"" pieces culled from Encounter, the New Yorker and elsewhere, John Strachey, with the expertise of a former Leftist and the elegance of an intellectual Londoner, proves he can still sparkle or startle with the best political sophisticates around. Whether it's a reprint of an old wartime coverage of the Blitz or a current look-see over the lolloping New Germany landscape, analyst Strachey is suave, sure and to the matter born. He tackles Trotsky's greatness, Stalin's criminality, the Webbs' romantic communism, Laski's virtues and vices, the spokesman similarities of Galbraith and Keynes. Rathenau's millionaire radicalism and the black magic irony of the Third Retch solving mass unemployment and balance of payment crises through demoract Schacht's currency controls. The piece de resistance, however, is the title essay, a brilliant salute to and examination of the literature of reaction from Koestler and Whittaker Chambers to Paslteraak's . That's worth the book's price alone. If Strachey as a political thinker is not consistently profound, he is an attractive, often dazzling commentator.