Golding has selected twenty ""occasional"" essays written in the last ten years, and with his usual humility, he apologizes for the diversity of style, since a ""contaminating awareness"" made him write according to the audience he was addressing. In the title piece, about the pass where the Spartans stopped Xerxes and his army, Golding indulges in a little historical recollection. Fable gives his rather simplistic view of history (he apparently believed in the perfectability of social man until World War II) to a point by point discussion of the symbolism in Lord' of The Flies. The best pieces deal with the U.S. where Golding, the author, subsides to become an innocent and often bewildered spectator with a sense of humor. Those on his childhood are sentimental, too studiously recollected, and lopsidedly egotistical. The essays are well written, and while not deserving serious consideration, are pleasant enough to read.