There is a mystery about these memoirs, hence their author. Harold Stearns, “splendidly endowed and so promising” (William Shirer’s opinion was typical), was once well known as a New York writer and intellectual. He was even better known as editor of an indictment, full of prominent contributors, called Civilization in the United States (1922)—also for delivering the manuscript of this book to the publisher and immediately boarding the Berengaria on the Fourth of July, 1921, in the vanguard of the American exodus to Paris, where he spent thirteen years. Next he appears as a standard piece of Left Bank scenery—the ghost of Greenwich Village, drunk, shabby, broke, alone. A. J. Liebling pegged him as the non-writing writer “hanging on the bar like a crook-handled cane.” Dozing at the Dome, he was wide open to “There lies civilization in the United States.”...


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