In This Review

Henry A. Wallace: His Search for a New World Order
Henry A. Wallace: His Search for a New World Order
By Graham White and John Maze
University Of North Carolina Press, 1995, 353 pp.

This careful scholarly biography gives a convincing psychological profile of a highly controversial figure -- one whom contemporaries often regarded as inexplicable. Wallace, whose vision of "One World" he believed was Franklin Roosevelt's own, was dumped from F.D.R.'s ticket in 1944 and broke bitterly with Truman over containment in 1946. In so doing, Wallace set out a critique of American policy whose main lines would later be revived by revisionists but at the time met with calumnious rejection by Truman and ultimately the American people. The authors think badly overdone the charge of mysticism that continued to dog Wallace, though they acknowledge the authenticity of the "Guru letters" he wrote in the 1930s (merrily brought to light by columnist Westbrook Pegler during Wallace's humiliating 1948 run at the presidency). Though mildly reproving of his naiveté‚ toward Stalin's Russia, they insist that "Wallace's pacifism was far from 'woolly idealism' " and think his vision of material abundance in a world at peace had many sensible and courageous aspects. That his vision made sense in 1948, however, they do not exactly show. Wallace himself recanted in 1950 and reverted to a "conservative, patriotic orthodoxy" -- demonstrating anew his proclivity to see the world in black and white.