Westward the Course. By Paul McGuire. (Heinemann, 15s.) Reviewed by HERBERT KELDANY
IF there were any danger of our fen
getting the tremendous issues for which so many gallant men of the United Nations have laid down their lives in the South Seas this book should help to put an end to it. 'hest because it is not a war-book it will enable all who are unfamiliar with the Indies to appreciate the full significance of the Japanese success in overrunning nearly a quarter of the globe.
The Pacific was still at peace when Paul McGuire, an Australian journalist well-known both here and in the U.S.A., made a long journey from Vancouver to Singapore via his native land in 1941. He took his time and read-up the story of the variegated patterns of civilisation through which his travels led him. The result is a fascinating mine of information. Hawaii, New Zealand, the Dutch Empire, 'Java and Malaya are described by a critic who conihines extracts from blue-books with an interest in gastro
nomy, missionary lore with understanding of the strength of Islam and a respect for the ubiquitous Chinese, with a nice discrimination.
Underlying this bright patchwork there is an evident preoccupation with the major problem of the Pacific world —the impact of the West upon the East. Now many centuries old, it was based on an assumption of spiritual and moral authority and comparatively little force.
A brief lifetime has seen this order challenged and materially reversed by Japan, but Mr. McGuire is not unhopeful of the future. He concludes:
" The expansion (of the West) has been more than an affair of trade and traffic and the clang of arms; it has belonged la the moral intelligence. From New York to Sydney and from Sydney to Singapore there LS' now one common character. It is in the American, the Dutch, the British: It appears in the Indian, the Chinese, the Malay.--it is that which struck off the ancient shackles and gives his final dignity to man."
IlliZsitrations, maps and a very full index assure this work a place among indispensable books. Theeadded pages on the battle of the Java Sea and the fall of Singapore-round off the picture of the captive Indies.