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In its spoofing of service-public relations, "" is similar to ""Don't Go Near the Water"". In its broad and low humor, preserved from farce by that slight touch of sadness, is, if not of ""No Time for Se"" caliber, at least of that tone. Major Barlow in a genius -- an idiotic genius -- a soldier who has such a grasp of, and worse, a belief in, the labyrinthia ways of standard operational procedures that, for him, the system works. Major Barlow and his public relations entourage (who got their jobs mainly because they knew nothing about them) composed of assorted characters, by sex obsessed, and a few loose-wristed gentlemen, fought the war behind the lines. But their war, in England, was one of rivalry (and revelry) over which P.R. installation, Telough or Boxhill, would handle the combined USAF and RAF releases on aircraft operations. Barlow was the zaniest of the Pentagon-type flotsam whose notion of a major contribution to the war effort was releasing meaningless statements of Idaho boys for their local newspapers. Barlow, a Texas, with an affected stutter, who insisted on having in his office always one more man than he had chairs, always promising to ""do something"" for his men, was their hero, whether they believed him, or like it. Henry Joyce, only half believed him half the time. Finally, to avoid a court-martial, Barlow had himself committed to a sanitarium and then obliged everyone by breaking-down. Points made here have been said before. The book is no less entertaining for that.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1958
Publisher: Crown