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Probably the salient factor in Magsaysay's career in Philippine politics was his remarkable subduing of the Huk Communists at a time when they threatened to turn the islands away from democracy. For this alone he deserves all of the praise Romulo and Gray give him in their openly eulogistic biography, a book which should receive considerable attention not only as the life of the president of the Philippines but of a man whose policies form the kind of practical liberalism dear to western ideals. Written in a personal idiom and partly from personal acquaintance (Romulo undertook, among his many other activities, the position of manager in Magsaysay's presidential campaign) the narrative paints a complete and engaging picture of the man. Born of poor parents and imbued from early youth with the ideals of honesty and hard work, Ramon as a boy knew and survived extreme hardships. He did the work yet asked nothing of the background that was later to be so important in making him a man of the people and in his teens he began to show tendencies towards community spirit and organization. After working his way through the university in Manila, he began work as a mechanic, prospered and married. The misfortunes that befell him soon after were not of his own making but they served, in sending him back to the country, to prepare him for guerilla warfare against the Japanese and, when the war was over, for the chance to run for Congress from his home district. In the political battles that ensued and elevated Magssysay to unprecedented heights, Gray and Romulo have struck a good balance; their analysis of opposing forces- the Huke whom Magsaysay conquered from within and through the logic of friendship instead of force, the incumbent Quirino whom he fought as a respected political fo are coupled with the description of their subject's almost legendary qualities- his infinite working capacity, friendship, scrupulous honesty, even his well-timed buffoonery. As an open minded champion of freedom, Magsaysay has a definite appeal for the west. A more objective biography remains to be written but this interim tribute serves as a warm and knowledgeable introduction. Romulo's books have had a popular audience before; this has a good chance of duplicating it. Certainly this can be viewed as an extension of his Crusade in Asia.

Pub Date: Dec. 12th, 1956
Publisher: John Day