for reasons as much personal as historical—nthe Great Divide between thenold world and the new. So great wasnthat cataclysm that, in the aftermath, hencan feel neither anger nor resentment,nbut something else: among the ruins ofnBerlin in 1949, he reflects how “everynone of those dim architectural formsnspelled a broken dream, spelled onenmore bit of frustration for people whonhad once felt the call of hope andninitiative. However you looked at it, itnseemed a pity.” Moralist that he is,nKennan is aware of some force deepernthan personal responsibility at work innhuman history — a history in whichnnature is inevitably caught up, andnwhich it is fated to share. “[T]hen thentall bare poplars, the same patient poplarsnwhich had waited and watchednthrough the final years of the WeimarnRepublic and the Nazi era and the warnand the bombings and the arrival of thenRussian Army, stood alone againnthrough another night, until the batteredncars of the first early subway trainncame clattering past through the openncut a few yards away and the skynlightened to the dawn of a gray, soggynMarch Sunday over aidift Beriin.”nIn a 1928 entry, after attending ancharity ball in Berlin, Kennan describesntheplight of the White Russian emigresnin terms that are to develop in timenself-descriptive overtones. “Alive theynare, these [noble] celebrities, but theirnworld is dead.” For the past halfcentury,nGeorge Kennan’s worfd toonhas been dead, and the one that hasnsucceeded it is not pleasing to thisnunapologetically unregenerate oldfashionedngentleman. On a trip to Chi­nBRIEF MENTIONS-ncago in 1951 to deliver a series ofnlectures at the university there, Kennannreceives his first intimation of late-20thcenturynAmerica: having observed thenslovenliness of the Chicagoans, amongnthem a thirteen-year-old pickup whonchews gum while spewing profanity atnher admirers, he retreats to his hotelnroom to read an article on communismnat Harvard and to reflect, “You havendespaired of yourself; Now despair, ofnyour country!” Later that year he travelsnto Pasadena, where he writes:nHere it is easy to see that whennman is given (as he can bengiven only for relatively briefnperiods and in exceptionalncircumstances) freedom bothnfrom political restraint and fromnwant, the effect is to rendernhim childlike in manynrespects. … In this sensenSouthern California, togethernwith all that tendency ofnAmerican life which it typifies,nis childhood without thenpromise of maturity—with thenA GRAVESTONE MADE OF WHEAT by Will WeavernNew York: Simon and Schuster; 205 pp., $16.95nThis collection of short stories is just exactly that: stories, and not exercises in thenlong confessional plotless whine or in cataloging minutiae, which is what sonmuch fiction has become. Weaver’s Midwestern stories have people in them,nnot puppets; people who are often wrestling with a moral dilemma: Olaf Torvik,nwho in the title story wants to grant his late wife’s wish and bury her on the farm;nten-year-old Timmy, who must choose between his mother’s horn-again pietynand his father’s anger; and old Feller, who cannot explain to the animal rightsnactivist that the mink he traps stand between him and welfare. Living innBemidji, Minnesota, Weaver has taken sides with the rural people of his fictionnagainst the city folks and the townspeople with their regulations. Howevernflawed his local people are, real trouble always comes from without, and it addsnto the poignancy of this well-written collection that while his country peoplensometimes triumph, they sometimes, as in real life, succumb. (KD)n40/CHRONICLESnnnpromise only of a continualnwidening and growingnimpressiveness of the childhoodnworld. And when the day ofnreckoning and hardship comes,nas I think it must, it willnbe — as everywhere amongnchildren — the crudest andnmost ruthless natures who willnseek to protect their interests bynenslaving the others; and thenothers, being only children, willnbe easily enslaved. In this way,nvalues will suddenly prove tonhave been lost that were forgednslowly and laboriously in thenmore rugged experiences ofnWestern political developmentnelsewhere.nWherever George Kennan has travelednin the world since the close of thenSecond World War, he had been appallednby the consolidation everywherenof mass culture and mass society, environmentalndegradation, and what hendescribes as “the intellectual and spiritualnvacuum which the European welfarenstate produces.” Yet even the gloomnthat the contemporary world causes himnto feel is lightened by his fundamentallynpoetic conception of history, in whichncivilizations rise and fall according to ancyclical pattern that, in the end, mercifullynmakes a clean sweep of the decadenceninto which those civilizadonsnhave fallen. In one of the book’s mostnpowerful passages, Kennan states implicitlynhis central theme, which is thatnWorid War II was not just the turningnpoint of the modern world, but thensymbol of human history itself a symbolnthat, by connecting past with presentnand present with future, succeeds inntransmuting a record of unmitigablendisasters into an epic poem of greatnbeauty. After making, in 1960, a nighttimenvisit with a friend to the Zueghausnruins in East Berlin, he records, uponnhis return to his West German hotel:n”And what ruins! In their original state,nthey had seemed slightly imitative andnpretentious. Now they suddenly had angrandeur I had not seen even in Rome.n. . . Neither of us could forget the greatnawesome ruins, standing so majesticallynand patiently and sorrowfully, under thennight sky, four miles away.”nChilton Williamson, Jr. is the seniorneditor for books at Chronicles.n