Now that Shangri La's have degenerated into Erewhons, and a formula has been perfected, political satires about the planned State involving ""an unspecified country in Europe"" seem to be multiplying. The State in this novel is obviously a post-war dictatorship modeled on the Hearst caricature of Russia. Brusilov, Director of the State Publishing House, pitting his power against the Police of the Governing Committee of State Publications in an attempt to preserve the independence of his department from Police domination, discovers evidence which he believes means the end of Police tolerance. He plans an intricate and elaborate escape from the country which is successful, only to discover that, ironically, the State had watches and approved of every move he made to get him out of the country. The details of the escape are exciting enough, but the book is hardly satisfactory on any other level. The portrait of the State is old stuff, the imitation is obvious and the characters dim. The sound of an axe being ground blots out attempts at characterization and telling dialogue.