throne more than a century afternJohn’s death, the restrictionsnupon his governance -were stillnslight. No senate hearings investigatednor ever tried to restrainnhim when he repeatedly brokentreaties, repudiated debts, circulatedndeceptive piopa^nda amongnhis own people, manipulated hisnlords, seduced (perhaps raped ) annoblewoman, permitted fti^tfiilnmistreatment of French villagers,nand sacrificed hundreds of hisnsubjects’ lives to his vaingloriousnforeign ambitions.nTrue, as he appears in MichaelnPacke’s thorough and engrossingnbiography (published posthumouslynthrough the editorialnefforts of L. C. B. Seaman), EdwardnIII was a more evenhanded andnadmirable ruler than many of hisnduplicitous, capricious, and brutalnpredecessors and contemporaries.nIn a curious way, his accomplishmentnin strengthening the thronenand in expanding his domainnthrough military exploits ultimatelyneven helped pave thenway to English democracy. Bynsuccessfully relying in battle notnupon his mounted aristocratsnbut upon his yeoman archers, hengave the commoner a new sensenof worth. “Edward,” Packe observes,n”had added somethingnnew to the political mix: a newnspirit of self-respect among mennwhose status had hitherto requirednthem to be mute.”nBy the time of George VI, innfact, this political mix had son36inChronicles of Culturenevolved that the united voice ofnthe majority, not the royal decree,ndecided Britain’s politicalndirection. It is cormnon to refernto the 20th-century British crownnas “merely symbolic.” This entirelynmisses the point. EdwardnIII wore a “merely symbolic”ncrown; George VI exercised virtuallynno direct political or militarynpower precisely because hisnsubjects did not view his crownnas a symbol of the right to determinennational policy. The ballotnbox has assumed this symbolicnstature. Just the same, in hisndomestic virtues, in his personalntriumph over a speech impediment,nin his dignified responsento the abdication crisis, and innhis tireless encouragement to hisnwar-battered subjects, George VInwas a culturally potent symbolnof national decency and resolve.nHe was, as Denis Judd stylesnhim, “a people’s king,” hailed bynhis Subjects with both the nationalnanthem and “For He’s anJolly Good Fellow.”nJudd’s biography, thougji competentnand readable, lacls the insightnand analytical penetrationnof Packe’s study. Though he doesntreat George VI’s opposition tonSoviet communism sympathetically,nJudd’s gratuitous apologiesnfor the king’s reservations aboutnpostwar socialization undernLabour and for his alleged inabilityn”to move with the times” asn”new moral standards” arose arenannoying. What this modernn”people’s king” sensed, as hisnbiographer evidentiy does not, isnthat only economic freedom andnmorality anchored in traditionnWASTE OF MONEYnAmbassador of NothingnPaul Theroux: Ihe LondonnEmbassy; Houghton MiffUn; Boston.nTolerance is a necessary virtuenamong Mlible beings. Angelsndoubtless share the same firmnconvictions about what constitutesnright thought and behaviornand therefore (as that bit of nastinessnwith Lucifer showed) brooknno dissent. Sublunar creatures,nhowever, enjoy much less sharedncertainty concerning correctnideas and conduct. Consequently,na due respect for the autonomynof others and a requisite modestynin asserting our own beliefs requiresnthat some allowance benmade for views and acts differingnflrom our own. Such tolerant allowancenis especially indispensablenfor a Peace Corps worker andnworld traveler like Paul Theroux,nan American who has spent muchnof his life in Africa, Asia, andnEurope. As he has demonstratednin The Great Railway Bazaarnand other nonfiction travel writing,nMr. Theroux rarely permitsnintolerance to come betweennhim and attentive appreciationnof the world’s variegated cultures.nHowever, in The LondonnEmbassy he makes it distressinglynclear that his tolerance is tendentiouslynselective, governed bynmodish liberalism.nThe fatuity of liberal tolerance,nundetected by Mr. Theroux, derivesnfrom its being not a deferentialnmargin around professednethical convictions but rather ansubstitute/or convictions. “Tolerance”naccordingly becomes annncan offer any lasting defensenagainst the onslaught of the neofeudalnmonarchs enthroned innthe Kremlin. (BC) Dneuphemism for egalitarian amorality,na curiously closed-mindedn/wtolerance toward all whonchampion communal valuesnlarger than the self Thus the centralnfigure in the collection ofnvignettes Mr. Theroux offers innThe London Embassy is a seniornAmerican diplomat named Savagenwho fornicates randomly, smokesnhashish casually, but becomes anUvid preacher of righteousnessnat the slightest hint of racial prejudicenor “sexism.” Naturally, disdainnfor stereotypes does notnprevent Mr. Theroux fl-om depictingnTories as hideboundnbigots, nor from portrayingnAmerican authority figures as irrationallynparanoid about internationalnterrorism and incipientnhomosexuality. On the othernhand the tender-but-tough feminismnof Savage’s half-Mexicannlover (belatedly his vsdfe) is presentednwith unrestrained sympathy,nas is her passionate engagementnin no-nukes activism. Andnwhile earnest America appearsnas the insidious corrupter ofnlovable British rambunctiousness,nthe relaxed “church-and-brothelnsociety” of the Netherlands isnportrayed as nearly Utopian. SincenAmerican emissaries should representnfavorably both our politicalnsystem and our national ethos,none hopes that our London embassynwiU expatriate employeesnlike Mr. Savage to the Dutch diplomaticncorps and that HoustonnMifflin will send Mr. Theroux tonAmsterdam with his next manuscript.n(BC) Dn