marks.” It also means that in Character,nGail Sheehy is talking to herselfnand the approximately two hundrednother people across America who considernit “not only useful but essential”nto know what went through MichaelnDukakis’s mind when he “first realizedn[he] wouldn’t grow up to be a giant.”n(And while we’re at it, will someonenexplain to me why serious, successfulnmen, while seeking the most responsiblenoffice in the country, think they arenobliged to trace for public consumptionntheir feelings about their height?nBefore long, reporters will be askingnstuff like, “What do you have to say tonthose Americans who think your headnis too big for your body?”)nUsing rambling sentences, imprecisenquasi-scientific language, and annearnest I’m-sorry-to-have-to-say-thisnvoice, Gail Sheehy draws often negativenand always confident conclusionsnabout her subjects. Her business isn’tnimpressions, it’s judgments. She presumesnto know large things about importantnpeople. If the nature of hernbusiness and the scale of her presumptionngive her pause, she doesn’t shownit. It is breathtaking to realize, forninstance, that the gist of her characternjudgment of Ronald Reagan — madenever so regretfully but without battingnan eye — is that the only eight-yearnPresident in recent history was all butnloony.nOnly once, briefly and unconvincingly,ndoes Gail Sheehy acknowledgenthat others might disagree with hernfindings: “Some readers will makentheir own connections between thenmany details offered in these portraits,nand come out with a very differentnassessment of a candidate’s character.”nBut that assumes readers will takenseriously enough her self-blendedncombinahon of political reporting andnpsychological dirt-digging to actuallynappraise her conclusions. Some won’tnget that far. Somewhere out amongnthose “nine different value orientations”nis at least one group whose firstnreaction after reading Ms. Sheehy’sncharacter assessments will be: saysnwho? If Gail Sheehy really wants morendiscerning, less impressionable citizens,nshe will, in that group, have foundnthem.nJanet Scott Barlow writes fromnCincinnati.n38/CHRON:CLESnMadness in GreatnOnesnby Peter LaurienEzra Pound: The Solitary Volcanonby John TytellnNew York: Doubleday; 384 pp.,n$19.95nThe American poet and man ofnletters John Berryman created innhis half-memoir, half-short story “ThenImaginary Jew” what is very likely thenmost powerfully compressed vision ofnvulgar, visceral racism in our literature.nIn this present, honorably intended biographynof Ezra Pound by an apparentlynJewish and leftist professor at QueensnCollege (whose previous books havendealt with Beats and radicals), we willnnot find that Pound the anti-Semite,nwhom Berryman visited regularly in anfederal madhouse, told many, includingnBerryman himself, that he consideredn”The Imaginary Jew” a masterpiece.nNor do we learn of Pound’s heftynpersonal check to Louis Zukofsky (partnof Pound’s Dial award he might wellnhave spent upon himself, Zukofskynbeing Jewish, Marxist, experimental,nand in need), which Zukofsky chose tonkeep forever uncashed as a monumentnto artistic magnanimity.nNor does Tytell mention that historynrepeated itself later when Hemingwaynwas moved (in spite of his total contemptnfor the political follies that gotnPound put away in the first place) tonsend him the last of his Nobel moneyn— along with the medal itself! —whichnthe novelist asked Pound to keep till hengot his own. Pound returned the medalnbut not the check. That he had lockednin Incite, in spite of his own financialnneed. “Hem,” he would reminisce inndeep age after the novelist’s suicide,n”had a gift for friendship.”nGlearly Pound did, too. He got onnwith more creative geniuses who couldnnot abide one another; influencednmore of them to the good; publicized,ncajoled, defended, promoted, andncoached more of the obviously giftednof his own time than probably anynother single patron, with the possiblenexception of Maecenas and variousnMedicis — and he had no money, andnthey were not artists. Mr. Tytell seemsnhonestiy to believe himself when hennnsuspects Pound may have done itnall — a thousand or so pieces of correspondence,namong other things, pernyear, over decades — out of selfpromotion,nthough he was the leastnconventionally successful of the greatnwriters of his time.nThe problem is, was, and will benthat Pound’s genius was of a uniquensort that seemed to embrace the highestnreaches of human aspiration as wellnas the lowest depths of human claptrap.nHe saw through most of thenconspiracies of most of the eras of mostnof the great civilizadons only to bensuckered into one of the worst ever,nright in his own time, sincerely believingnthe Axis were out to end Usury —nthe root cause, for Pound, of thencollapse of civilizations through thenages — whereas it now seems entirelynself-evident that it was simply its latest,nworst form.nWhat is clear, though, is that Poundnacted, in his distraught and mistakennway, to preserve civilization. One importantnletter to Mussolini (whichnTytell takes no note of, perhaps becausenhe appears to have only thenshakiest grasp of the relevant foreignnlanguages as well as of Pound’s actualnmotivation) goes something like, “Forntwenty years you have said you wouldnmove against the monopolies, and younstill have not; you have said you wouldnmove against the gold dealers, thenmunitions cartel, the banks, the insurancenmagnates,” and so on, on and onnfor several amazing pages — to whichnMussolini, having been a tool of preciselynall those interests, appears tonhave made no answer, perhaps, fornonce, out of respect for the truth. Onenmust ask again and again as one plowsnthrough Mr. Tytell’s almost clinicallyndetached mosaic of megalomania, racism,nand political crankhood whethernhe even likes art, whether the obviousncontemporary smash-up of humannheart, mind, soul, heritage, and willntouches him at all.nBut, worse luck for all of us, it’s thenage that seems to have managed tonembrace the highest reaches of humannaspiration simultaneously with the lowestndepths of claptrap. Hardly any ofnthe artists of the first half of ourncentury were at all sanguine about thenera they were forced to suffer throughnand into. Now they seem, frankly, wellnout of it, since communism, fascism.n