10 JULY 1941, Page 18

Mongolia from Within

Mongol Journeys. By Owen Lattimore. (Cape. I2S. 6d.) THE appearance of this book is opportune, for the moment is approaching—in my opinion quickly—when Mongolia is likely to be "in the news "—the war-news ; when the Mongols, if not fighting as allies of Russia against the Japanese, as in border clashes they have in all probability done on several occasions recently, will be fighting them as allies of China, who in effect, and probably formally also, will have stepped into that relation- ship with ourselves. To some this anticipation may seem a little wild. The facts on which it is based cannot here be surveyed fully because Mr. Lattimore's book, and not its international setting, is what one has been asked to review ; but some of them may legitimately be mentioned because Mr. Lattimore himself states them. Thus he says :

There is no longer any question of Chinese and Japanese fighting to see which is to dominate the Mongols. It is rather a question of the common interests of Chinese and Mongols which make for a united stand against Japanese imperialism. The terms regulating this spontaneous alliance have certainly not reached their final form, but they are already tending towards an ultimate autonomy under which the Mongols will rule them- selves but form part of a Federated Republic of China.

This statement is preceded by a brief survey of Russo-Mongol- Japanese history during recent years containing the following sentences :

It is difficult to form a clear and detailed idea of what has been happening in Outer Mongolia from the statements of refugees on the one hand and the few available Russian trans- lations of official Mongol statements on the other hand. The rough idea that I have formed for myself is that the Outer Mongolian Revolution has been more like that of Kemalist Turkey than like that of Russia. Perhaps internal changes—includ- ing the disestablislunent of the Church—have not been carried so far in Outer Mongolia as in Turkey; but on the other hand the alliance between Outer Mongolia and Russia is much closer than the relationship between Russia and Turkey ever was.

The Outer Mongolian Revolution, it should be explained, was the outcome of two movements, the reaction in Outer Mongolia to the Communist revolution in Russia, preceded by rebellion against China under Czarist Russian auspices. Of this anti- Chinese movement and the establishment of Czarist-Russian influence in Outer Mongolia I was myself a witness and a reporter at Urga in 1913.

But one would be doing an injustice to this book if one gave the impression that it is primarily concerned with politics. Primarily it is an account of the Mongols as human beings, and of their way of life, by a man who is much more than a clever traveller with a knack of seeing things and expressing them with sprightliness. Mr. Lattimore is an extremely conscientious student whose knowledge is wide and deep ; who has been to infinite (albeit unboundedly happy) trouble to acquire what he knows ; who speaks and reads Mongol, as he does Chinese (having recently learnt to read Russian as well, the better to pursue his Mongol studies) ; who never consciously sacrifices reality to picturesqueness, yet gives things of the spirit their rightful place, and who in this admirable book presents us with an extremely attractive human document packed with reliable information of an astonishingly miscellaneous and intriguing kind—much too valuable to be left without an index as, alas!