Postscript Sunday 25 August 1940

J.B. Priestley returned to his Postscript series of broadcasts on Sunday 25 August 1940.  He had been on holiday in Wales, where he had had an adventure.  On a walk with two of his daughters, ill-prepared, they had climbed a mountain, but got lost in rain and mist on the steep slate slopes of the descent, ending up in a valley miles away.  They were rescued by some kind Welsh people, who gave them tea and took them home.  After vividly describing the incident, Priestley suggested a parallel: “We’re all on top of a foggy mountain, with slippery steep slopes on every side”, in great danger and confusion.

Cover of Drucker's End of Economic Man

Cover of Drucker's End of Economic Man

The way to cope mentally with the war, Priestley advised, was not to follow every news event obsessively, but sometimes to break away completely, or to take a wider view: “Don’t be a mere cork bobbing about on a stream of information and rumour and dejected wonder, but cut through to the causes, the ideas”.  He recommended reading Peter Drucker’s The End of Economic Man, not because he totally agreed with Drucker, but because he found the book thought-provoking.  It would help lift the fog and give a glimpse of a way out.

Drucker’s book was subtitled A Study of the New Totalitarianism.  Written in early 1939, it analysed the sudden rise of fascist totalitarianism.  This image shows the J.B. Priestley Library copy,  published by Basis Books in 1940.  Basis was a subscription-based cheap edition publisher, set up by Phoenix.  The original UK publisher was Heinemann, who also published Priestley.  Our copy was presented by a Mr W. R. Moss; its cover is tatty and some pages missing at the front, but the text is still readable.

The cover design shows (I think) statues from the temple of Rameses II at Abu Simbel, which is confusing as there is no mention of Egypt in the book.  It appears to be a standard design for the series – our copy of Foreign Affairs 1919-1939 by E.L. Hasluck has the same cover.


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