I Berthe Morisot: A Biography Anne Higonnet (Collins£17.5()) Berthe Morisot was a leading Impressionist painter. one ofthe few to exhibit at most ofthe Impressionist exhibitions. Although the dust-jacket says Morisot was the only woman Impressionist. she wasn‘t. One thing this book touches upon is the differences. political and artistic. between her and Mary Cassatt. her rivalry with Eva Gonzalez. and the domestic reasons for the withering of Marie Braquemond‘s career. This is a long-overdue biography. readable and informative about Morisot and her circle. It is not a critical work. additionally. it raises questions. but then skirts over interesting points Not the definitive Morisot

but enjoyable. (Hilary Robinson)


I People of the Black Mountains Volume II Raymond Williams (Chatto and Windus. £l3.99) Relatively hot on the heels of People oft/1e Black Mountains Volume I which told the story ofthe Black Mountains of Wales front prehistory to the lst century after Christ. comes Volume II which takes us through to the 15th century. Unfortunately. this

is as far as the reader will ever get. Williams died in 1988 with plans for a third Volume in note form.

The story is ofa young man's search for his grandfather, lost in the

Black Mountains in the present day. These short sections are interspersed

with stories from particular periods in the mountains‘ history. Between them they unfold a view of people bound together by their existence on a land through time.

Joy Williams. Raymond‘s wife has written a postscript saying that the

conclusion to Volume III had there

been one. would have concerned ‘the connection of memory through remembered generation‘ and ‘memory across a place‘. It‘s a testament to the quality of Williams‘ work that the reader can grasp the intention. even though it is only two thirds complete.

Very grand and very good. (K.A. Davidson)


I Reflections on the Revolution in Europe Ralf Dahrendorf(Chatto and Windus £5.99) Sir Ralf is an Oxford scholar. whose essay on the recent revolutions in EurOpe comes to us courtesy of the Chatto ‘Counterblast' series.

Dahrendorf‘s work takes the form ofa letter to a gentleman in Warsaw. an informal structure which allows




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him leeway to range over the subject. following his nose and discussing ‘the open society‘. the death ofsocialism. Germany reunited etc.

What we get is naive Popperianism one more time. Liberalism‘s reliance on Karl Popper and his detached ideology can‘t be left unchallengecd by the post—Trotskyist left, especially if a corollary of Dahrendorf‘s view. with respect to the collapse ofcorrupt, democratic centralist regimes. is that social democracy is fit for the waste bin as well.

Reflections on the Revolution in Europe will be seen by its supporters as a sober. sensible meditation on 1989 and its aftermath. The view from Scotland is that the essay is smug with few interesting points. (K.A. Davidson)


I The Broken Chord Michael Dorris (Collins. £16.95) One glass ofwine enjoyed by a pregnant woman is effectively a bottle involuntarily ingested by her unborn child. Ethanol crosses the placenta freely, gathering in all developing organs but particularly in grey matter. The result. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. is

inevitable. incurable. lethal. and on the increase. Signs include typical facial appearance. poor growth. deformities. epilepsy and mental deficiency. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome people cannot reason or judge the consequences of their actions.

FAS was identified and described in 1973. Two years earlier Michael Dorris adopted Adam. a slight. active. loving child. a slow learner and full North American Indian. whose birth mother later died of drink. Adam was a teenager when by chance on Pine Ridge Reservation. his father saw other FAS children and the full significance of the boy’s condition dawned.

No-one was better placed than this author to make a sharply qualified triumph out ofa personal and national tragedy. Anthropolitist. writer and part Indian himself. he has researched and written a passionate and objective account of FAS in one individual and the North American Indian nation. where one child in four is afflicted. Figures for Europe are lower but increasing and future implications are clear. By rights this devastating book should change the world. (Sally Macpherson)

Weighty account

Two years ago Longman initiated a bold experiment that paid huge dividends. The Chronicle of The Twentieth Century with its combination of a bouncy, journalistic style, vivid photographs and inch-perfect research was one popular history book that could never be labelled the tormerly ubiquitous, ‘dull’. It has also, to date, sold 540,000 copies.

Having covered the century, the brains behind the Chronicle decided that the main event had been relatively skirted around. Hence, The Chronicle of The Second World War has evolved. All of the regular ingredients are there; most notably some quite superb, and otten harrowing, photographs. Many of these are of the type which draw the phrase ‘l’ve always wanted to see a picture of that' (there’s an amazing snap of the Fuhrer and II Duce peering into the blasted shell of the ‘Wolf’s Lair' after a bomb attack in 1944).

The index is excellent with entries including the always helpful precis of particular incidents in addition to a number. For example, ‘Hitler‘ is not simply a series of page numbers but ‘assassination attempt fails, 544’ etc. After the chronicling of events, the choice of background material explaining land, sea and airwarfare techniques is predictable but useful.

The problems are the usual ones for a European popular history. Initially, in spite of claims to the contrary, one is given the impression that the Second World War was really a European affair

sf é :1 ‘v

with occasional activity in SE Asia. The fact that the war against Japan was much more fluid and, dare I say, historically interesting, seems to escape all save those who are expert in this field.

There is also a glaring lack of background detail which is inevitable when using this format (beginning in September '39 and stopping with a sudden halt in August ’45). Printing a few tacts, chronicle-style, about ’38, early ’39 and late '45 could have been dispensed with for all the historical perspective they gave.

These, though, are minor gripes when compared to the fundamental one. The text is irritating; not journalistic but journalese. The various writers have such a sensationalist style that they could have leapt otf the leader page of The Sun. 80, whilst the book looks fabulous, one is soon dissuaded from musing through because it is like reading a weighty tabloid. For a specifically designed coffee-table book, presumably aiming at the middle-class intelligentsia, that is a huge drawback. (Philip Parr)

The Chronicle of The Second World War (Longman, £29.95).

84The List 31 August 13 September 1990