Europe which had slain itself.”nFound throughout the book, moreover,nis the figure of Winston Churchill,nserving at once as Paul Johnson’s altern^o and as the conscience of the WesternnChristian World, challenging the dominantnforces of the age (“You might asnwell legalize sodomy as recognize thenBolsheviks,” he exclaimed in 1919),nstru^Jing—often alone—^to hold backnthe apocalypse, always managing to benpresent at the major axes of time (astonishingly,nChurchill was actually sitting innthe visitors’ gallery of the New YorknStock Exchange on October 24, 1929nwhen the stock market boom began toncollapse).nOf course, some personalities fell betweennthese camps. While Johnson labelsnHerbert Hoover “one of the tragic figures”nof his era, he also criticizes him as thenfirst true American social engineer, as ancorporatist and Keynesian, and as thenThe Newest HeaMi ServicenPublicized notions of human sociosexiialnconduct get curiouser and curiouscr.nThere was the woman in New York whontaught classes on masturbation; now therenis one Cynthia Silverman of Los Angelesnwho “conducts a workshop for marriednwomen who arc having, or thinking ofnhaving, extramarital affairs.” Ms. Silverman’snmotives, of course, are of the high­n16inChronicles of CulturenLiBERAL CULTUREnprototype of the new and dangerous activistnpolitician. Francisco Franco, whilencertainly “cold” and “unlovable,” is nonethelessncalled “one of the most successfiilnof public men of the century.” As a soldiern”in the tradition of the Romans, the crusaders,n[and] the conquistadors” whon”spent his entire political career seekingnto exterminate politics,” Franco drawsnsome admiration fl-om the historian asnan honest, if archaic spirit swimmingnagainst the tide.nYet in general, Johnson spends littlentime agonizing over the nuances of judgment.nAbsolute evil is loose in the world,nhe believes, and its partisans are widelynspread. But what the author sacrifices innterms of lack of caution, oversimplification,nand strained generalizations, henmore than recovers in the sharpness andnmoral vigor of his argument. For PaulnJohnson, at least, nothing is relative.nLeast of all when drawing broad com-nest order: she wants to see that “they don’tndo it moronically or hurt themselves orntheir families.” Whether she mentions innher classes the miseries resulting from infidelitynis not highlighted in this promotionalneffort.nSilvermans of all kinds, and their ruthlessnimbecility, have been with us always,nyet tlie puzzling aspect of the matter liesnin its presentation. The article from whichnthe above quotes were taken did not appearnin National Enquirer or VillagenVoice. It was put out over the AP wirenservice, by the folks who supposedly supplynthis country widi the fest-breaking,nimportant news of the day. It was printednnot In some metropolitan daily’s ultraprogressivenlifestyle section but in a smalltown,nsupposedly family newspaper,nunder an approving title: “Cheating cannbe healthy…” Healthy for whom? For thenhigh school kids who look through thenpaper each day for local sports news andncafeteria menus? For the young husbandsnand wives browsing for local news andngrocery-store sales? Dnnnparisons across time and space. The ThirdnFrench Republic, he argues, “had beennthe embodiment of the notion ‘small isnbeautifiil,'” sporting a declining population,na stagnant economy, and a highlyndeveloped cult of the “little man,” thensmall farm, the small factory. “It wasndead even before the Germans defeatednit,” he adds vwth implicit warning, “andncollapsed into a heap of dust in the summernof 1940.” Hitler’s fear of race poisoningnand the latter-day fear of environmentalnpoisoning, Johnson su^ests elsewhere.nShared a common psychology;n”As with the.. .ecologists, [the Germannracists] thought race-poisoning wasnspreading fast, that total disaster was imminent,nand that it would take a long timento reverse even if the right policies werenadopted prompdy.” He casts Hitier as anprecursor of the rock musician, an artistpoliticiannwho designed and set thenscenes of his oratory with “enviable skill”nand who was “the first to appreciate thenpower of amplification” and the “devilry”nof the light show. The author suggestsnthat the pacifism of the 1930’s, widi itsn”highly emotional atmosphere” and “annostensible concern for humanity formingna thin crust over a morass of fiink,” isnquite su^estive of this decade’s nuclearnscare. Such comparisons would benavoided by most professional historiansnas fecile exercises. Less inhibited by thenrigors of academe, Johnson presses ahead,nsearching for—^and often finding—hisnabsolute truths.nJohnson’s treatment of colonialismndeserves special note. It is easily the bestnshort discussion now extant of this sorelynmisunderstood subject. Most impressively,nhe deflates the whole phenomenon—gassednup by endless harangues atnthe United Nations—back to its real size.nThe author writes:nColonialism was, in essence, a cartographicnentity… Seen from maps, colonialismnappeared to have changednthe world. Seen on the ground, it appearedna more meticulous phenomenonnwhich could and did change litde.n