Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Only Yesterday 01

Significant Sentences: Only Yesterday (01)
Frederick Lewis Allen
New York: Bantam Books, 1921.

An ironic view of the 1920s from the end of World War I to the collapse of the stock market in 1929. Its theme: “Whether the human race gains in wisdom as time goes by is uncertain; the one thing we can be sure of is that its absurdities take changing forms.”

Shout as the crowds might for Wilson and justice, they voted for Lloyd George and vengeance. p. 17.

Now that the Germans were beaten, a score of jealous European politicians were wondering what they could get out of the settlement at Paris for their own national ends and their own personal glory…. They went to Paris determined to make a peace which would give them plunder to take home. p. 17.

As Ray Stannard Baker has well put it, Wilson was ‘accustomed to getting his information, not from people, but out of books: documents, letters—the written word’ and consequently ‘underestimated the value of human contacts.’

Again and again, it was he [Wilson], and he only, who prevented territories from being parceled out among the victors without regard to the desires of their inhabitants. p. 18.

He [Wilson] fell into the pit which is dug for every idealist. Having failed to embody his ideal in fact, he distorted the fact. He pictured the world to himself and to others, not as it was, but as he wished it to be…. The story of the Conference which he told to the American people when he returned home was a very beautiful romance of good men and true laboring without thought of selfish advantage for the welfare of humanity. p. 20.

Henry Cabot Lodge…believed in Americanism. He believed that the essence of American foreign policy should be to keep the country clear of foreign entanglements unless our honor was involved, to be ready to fight and fight hard the moment it became involved, and, when the fight was over, to disentangle ourselves once more, stand aloof and mind our own business. p. 20.

Harding: America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums but normalcy; not revolution but restoration…not surgery but serenity. p. 30.

(To be continued)

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