IN FOCUSnThe Failings of Well-MeaningnJournalismnRowland Evans and RobertnNovak: The Reagan Revolution;nE. P. Dutton; New York.nEvans and Novak, the syndicatedncolumnists, have writtenna remarkably friendly, thoughnsuperficial, account of the originsnand early accomplishmentsnof President Reagan’s administration.nTheir book is clear butnnot penetrating. It displays thencharacteristic failing of thenauthors’ profession: a tendencynto find historical turning pointsnin what may well be rather minorncurrent events and an inclinationnto focus on personalitiesnand bureaucratic battles rathernthan hard questions of policy.nIn line with their title, thenauthors stress that the Reagannadministration is engaged innmaking some revolutionarynchanges, and, although theynwereoncemoderateliberals, theynclaim to approve. Actually, however,nthey see this “revolution”nas an effort to restore Americanto its international position ofn1955, and to its domestic orientationnof 1925, albeit with thenaddition of some “selective socialnwelfare programs.” Conservativesnof the era between thenworld wars might regard thatnemendation as the equivalent ofnbeing a “little bit” pregnant; itnwas precisely those programsnwhich constituted the core ofnthe New Deal. In fact the realnpolicy of the administrationnseems to be one of merely reducing—notneliminating—somen”Great Society” programs. Andnit should be noted that in 1955nS8inChronicles of Culturenmost Americans would havenbeen astounded that anyone,nleast of all conservatives, regardednour international situationnas a model.nThe development of supplysideneconomics policy, which thenauthors seem to favor, is a realndeparture from recent policy,nbut they portray it as merely anreturn to the policies of AndrewnMellon in the 1920’s. Considerablenspace is devoted to the battlenover supply-side economics,nbut they conspicuously fail tonask, much less answer, somenhard questions—a failing characteristicnof their whole book.nThe supply-siders stress the wisdomnof the Coolidge-Mellonnpolicies and denounce tax policiesnsince the 1930’s as unsound.nThe uninformed observer isnbound to wonder why, if this isntrue, the Mellon-policy era wasnimmediately followed by thenGreat Depression, while thenpost-World War II era saw thenbiggest sustained economicnboom in history. Probably thensupply-siders could provide satisfactorynanswers to these objections,nbut Evans and Novaknsimply ignore them.nThe Reagan Revolution is annexcellent example of the casualnway in which columnistsnsqueeze history in order to makentheir point. Accordingly, thenauthors claim that LyndonnJohnson “widened the war innVietnam without taking Congressninto his confidence.”nIt would be truer to say that itnsuited Congress and LBJ’s enemiesnto pretend that this was son—not quite the same thing. Discoursingnon the unstable fortunesnof post-World War IInPresidents, they stress that thesenleaders “encountered greaternpolitical misfortune than anyngroup of Presidents in history,”nnoting that only Ike served andnsurvived two full terms. As anmatter of fact, the men whonserved as Presidents betweenn1900 and 1945 fared just asnbadly. Only Wilson and FDRnserved two (or more) completenterms, and Wilson was hardlynan effective President after hisn1919 stroke. Kennedy was murdered—butnso was McKinley. IfnTruman was not elected twice,nhe did serve nearly two fullnterms; Theodore Roosevelt didnno better. This sort of ominousncomparison may be fashionablenbut, on examination, it is notnvery impressive. It is temptingnto look back nostalgically atnsome things; in the election ofn1912, for example, Americansnwere offered a choice of threenhonest and competent Presidentialncandidates. In some recentnelections our political system hasnnot provided us with even onengood choice.nUltimately, it seems to me thatnEvans and Novak have exaggeratednthe degree of PresidentnReagan’s “radicalism,” his commitmentnto what they see as an”revolution.” Many times theyneven admit to being puzzled;nthey cite evidence that wouldnseem to prove that Reagan actu­nnnally is a somewhat lethargic man,nprone to value old friends andnpersonal acquaintances overnideological commitments—and,nperhaps, competence. The President’sncabinet selections, hisngeneral conduct since the inaugurationnand his earlier conductnas Governor suggest he isnnot a right-wing ideologue, andnthat his conservatism has oftennbeen exaggerated. This muchnmust be said for Evans andnNovak: they do at least mentionnfacts that don’t accord with theirnthesis—the reader in search ofndata on the early days of thisnadministration will not bendisappointed.nI must, however, cavU at onencliche — the description ofnRonald Reagan as a “B-movienactor.” Mr. Reagan made manyn”A” films. He may have beennusually only a “second lead,” butnhe did get Ann Sheridan innKing’s Row—in 1941 an actorncould hardly ask for more. Let usnhear no more of this inaccurate,nmean-spirited belittling.! AJL)nnPerceptiblesnBill Hotchkiss: The MedicinenCalf; W. W. Norton & Co.; NewnYork.nHotchkiss’s novel aboutnMountain Man and Crow ChiefnJim Beckwourth does what qualitynliterature does best: rendersnlife as if it were our own.nThrough Beckwourth, born andnraised east of the Mississippi, wenencounter, survive and partakenof difficult experiences commonnto life in the far West—the violence,nthe rituals, the spirit of thenland and the people. Hotchkissnevokes a clarity as plain asnnature’s seasons.nThat Beckwourth was a Titannamong Titans Hotchkiss makesncredible by describing his prowessnat everything. In this respect,nhe seems much like Odys-n