Objective Viewpoint

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What is being talked about in this introduction is not literature but history, and it is worthwhile to see what kind of history is being expounded. It is the story, apparently, of one sea slug swallowing another. … We entered World War I, says Mr. Wilson, because of British propaganda, although “we might well by abstaining have shortened the war and left Europe less shattered and more stable.” We were “gradually and furtively” brought into the Second World War by Mr. Roosevelt, who appears to have maneuvered the Japanese into bombing Pearl Harbor—in about the same way, apparently, that Mr. Lincoln maneuvered the Confederacy into firing on Fort Sumter. Now we are in a cold war, and our problem is that we persist in attaching abstract values to it and refuse to recognize the whole tragic affair as a business of sea slugs.

As noted above, Mr. Wilson begins by promising to explain his general point of view and to give an objective account of the regrettable unpleasantness of the i86o’s. The point of view is clearly set forth, but the “objectivity” is that of The Debunker: the most impassioned and pontifical objectivity you are likely to meet in a long, long time.