ment, whose Tribune reflected Americarnas in a funhouse mirror.”rnHow could both camps be right? EitherrnMcCormick was a fearless patriot orrna danger to the Republic. Wliich is it?rnFurthermore, the charge of “endangering”rnfreedom of expression confuses thernvictim of repression with its perpetrators:rnthe Colonel’s numerous enemies —rnFDR and the hardline New Dealers inrnhis Cabinet, notably Harold Ickes —rndid everything they could to close downrnthe Tribune, short of “sending in thernMarines to occupy Tribune Tower,” asrnSmith reports a few hundred pages later.rnHe drops his Potemkin facade early on,rndescribing the Colonel’s life as “a onemanrnAge of Anxiety . . . [whose] phobiasrnincluded, in no particular order, thernNew Deal; the Fair Deal; Prohibition;rnWall Street; the United Nations . . .rnHuey Long . . . Henry Luce; HerbertrnHoover (‘the greatest state socialist in history’rn—before FDR); NATO; and cringingrn’he-debutantes’ in his coimtry’s foreignrnservice who were more eager torncurry favor with an exhausted British empirernthan to uphold the muscular nationalismrnof the Mississippi Valley.”rnFashion in the art of biography is currentlyrnset by armchair psychologists, a developmentrnthat obviates the need for anyrnreal understanding of, or feeling for, thernsubject on the part of his biographer.rnSmith’s tome is suffused with quasi-rnFreudian psychobabble, uttered in thernmagisterial tone of the author-therapist.rnFor example, he claims that thernColonel’s “blustery self-regard hid a fearsomernstruggle between the classic narcissist’srnegocentricity and crippling feelingsrnof inadequacy that dated to his earliestrnyears as an unwanted substitute for hisrnmother’s lost baby girl.” “Both qualities,”rnhe continues, “spilled over into thernpages of the Tribune, which came to mirrorrnnot only the exaggerated pride felt byrnChicagoans but also their inferiorityrncomplex as inhabitants of an overgrownrnprairie village, culturally and politicallyrndwarfed by the hated, envied East. Thusrna second son exemplified a second city.rnThe Colonel wasn’t Don Quixote butrnthe Wizard of Oz.”rnThe book is shot full of similarly pretentiousrnprose, all calculated to characterizernMcCormick as a neurotic emotionalrncripple who had erased the linernbetween pathology and polihcs. Smithrndemonizes McCormick’s mother, therncolorful Kate, attributing the Colonel’srninabilit)- to love the IJ.N. to the unlovabilityrnof this acerbic woman, who supposedlyrnpreferred his older brother,rnMedill. In an effort to make her seemrneven worse than she probably was, Smithrnresorts to the kind of deception he mightrnhave attributed to Kate, by quoting fromrna letter from her, dated July 30, 1916rn(the Colonel’s birthday, which he spentrnin the trenches somewhere in France,rnweak and ill from dengue fever). “PoorrnBertie,” she writes, “Poor baby boy 36rnwith an old tart of 48 on his back. I supposernhe is bored to death! Soldiering isrnnot his profession.” Smith gives the readerrnthe impression that this letter was writtenrnto McCormick. The suspiciousrnreader has to trudge through a poorly organizedrnnote section, placed inconvenientlyrnat the back of the book, before herndiscovers that a cruel mother is not writingrnto young Bertie, being shot at by Germansrnon his birthday, but rather mockingrnhim, in a letter to Medill, for havingrnhad a scandalous affair with an olderrnmarried woman — a fact that gives thernquotation a different emotional coloring.rnSmith conducts his vendetta againstrnKate at least partially on ideologicalrngrounds. He quotes a letter from her tornthe Colonel in which she excoriates himrnfor not coming out strongly enoughrnagainst the League of Nations: “Wobbhngrnon the fence was not the way yourrngrandfather made the Trib the great westernrnvoice for good that it was, but he wasrna man of stern morality and immovablernconvictions, and you and Joe are neitherrnand the reading public knows it.” Goodrnold Kate! She rates a biography in herrnown right.rnEven as a smear job and despiternSmith’s unprecedented access to thernColonel’s papers, the book is a clumsy effort,rnrife with contradictions. For instance,rnafter declaring that the Colonelrnhad strong “authoritarian tendencies,”rnSmith immediately launches into a longrndescription of his career with the P’irstrnDivision, irr which “his first and longestrunningrnbattle was with a military establishmentrnthat was disdainful of citizenrnsoldiers.” In battling against the establishment,rnnot only in the army but backrnon the home front, the Colonel was obviouslyrnacting on the militant antiauthoritarianismrncentral to his temperamentrnand his politics.rnAthird of the way through ThernColonel, the unrelenting snipingrnand condescending tone become practicallyrnunbearable. A physical descriptionrnof the Colonel becomes a catalog ofrngrotesquerie: the Colonel’s “unnaturalrnheight,” his “spaniel eyes” and “clipped,rnworld-weary manner,” all are grist forrnSmith’s mill. The sheer stupidity ofrnSmith’s unending malice is enough tornset the intelligent reader’s teeth on edge.rnOn McCormick’s opposition to Prohibition,rnSmith avers that the Colonel’s “reverencernfor the American Constitutionrnnever prevented him from cheerfully violatingrnits Eighteenth Amendment.”rnBut surely, as an alleged “expert” on McCormick,rnSmith realizes that thernColonel considered the Prohibitionrnamendment to be an unnatural and subversivernencrustation on the original bodyrnof the Constitution —a view that, farrnfrom being a personal eccentricity, wasrnwidespread enough that the Prohibitionrnamendment was soon repealed. Morernthickheaded still is Smith’s inability tornunderstand the Colonel’s lifelong devotionrnto the memory of the First Divisionrnand his staunchly noninterventionist foreignrnpolicy stance. ‘Tet before he wentrnto his grave, dressed in his faded WorldrnWar I uniform, to the triumphant strainsrnof ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers,’ McCormickrnhad become the leadingrnadvocate of American diplomatic isolationrnand military retrenchment.” This,rnto Smith, is paradoxical: a moment’srnthought might lead anyone else to concludernthat, having seen the horror of warrnfirsthand, the Colonel was not eager thatrnothers should have to endure it. AsrnJoseph Gies points out in The Colonel ofrnChicago, while McCormick referred tornhis service in the First Division as “arnpriceless experience,”rnat the same time there was the disillusion,rnthe sense of the futility ofrnthe slaughter, which he sharedrnwith the rest of the country. . ..rn[A]n antiwar, anti-Europeanrncynicism competed with a hangoverrnromantic militarism . . . [and]rnslowly the first sentiment won ascendancy,rnwith a universal agreementrnamong all parties, old warrnhawks, old neutralists, and the newrngeneration, that whatever the meritsrnof the crusade to save the worldrnfor democracy, it had been arnfailure and should never, never bernrepeated.rnSmith’s obtuseness blinds him to thernobvious. “[M]any readers [of the Tribune],”rnhe writes, “found it understand-rnDECEMBER 1997/27rnrnrn