If the reader cares one whit for belles lettres -- for art and art criticism, for music, music criticism, or musicology, for the theatre or opera, for poetry, for any of the fundamental media of expression, he will appreciate this book and return to it again and again. And even if he cares not at all for the world of the arts, but only for modern economic, political, and sociological history, this six-decade autobiography is a bee-tree of pattern flux on all the major continents. If one dares not approach it devoid of all background, neither is the style arcane or even in-group, but merely personal and alive. The narrative is interspersed with wonderful anecdotes (including, of course, several about Gertrude Stein) and exquisite eulogies for departed friends. Thomson is now a proud but far from haughty seventy, still actively composing, still struggling in the cause of modern music. He is the product of an understanding family, splendid teachers, the best of between-wars Europe (especially Paris), fourteen years of the Golden Age at the New York Herald Tribune, Hollywood, the concert and lecture circuits, and a conscious exercise of intellect: a lifetime of ""fishing or mending his nets."" So outstanding, so captivating is this memoir that despite its size it ranks among the obligatory books of the year for anyone at all inclined toward romance and creative excitement in our century.