29 MARCH 1940, Page 15

Mr. Maugham has special qualities which fit him for the

task. He has lived many years in France, and is rightly regarded by the French as one of our outstanding writers. He is intimate with all classes of the French population, and they in turn regard him with the confidence and respect which the French, as distinct from the British, readily accord to men of letters. He possesses a deep and wide knowledge of French culture, and he well knows that " their most valuable exports are those spiritual values which enlarge the mind and add to the elegance, variety and beauty of life." Yet he also knows that the central core of French life is rural and not urban, and that below the surface of its brilliance flows a strong stubborn stream of national unity and resolution. He has been upon an extended tour of the Maginot Line ; he has visited the evacuation areas and the reception areas ; he has accompanied the French Fleet upon night exercises, and has inspected the great factories in which day and night the men and women of France are seeking to outdistance Marshal Goering. He has spoken to Cabinet Ministers and village priests, to army commanders and old women gathering sticks beside the road. His book will do more than impress the British public with a healthy respect for the French people: it may well stimulate our own effort and steel us to further sacrifice.