WE don’t know when the very first war took place, or who fought it, but flint arrow-heads are among the oldest exhibits, and the flint head arrow was not only the beginning of man’s ascendancy in the animal world, but of his ascendancy over his unarmed human contemporaries.
Coincident with his discovery of the flint head arrow, early man began to record his thoughts by scratching on pieces of bone or stone. And we’ll bet that were we able to decipher these scratchings, among them we’d find a spy story. We don’t suppose there ever was a war without spy stories, and we know of no form of war fiction or fact which has a greater fascination for the reader.
On page five of this issue of Maclean’s we begin a corking good secret service yam—“Spy Against the Reich,” by Michael Annesley. It is shortly to appear in book form in England. The central figure, British Secret Agent Lawrence Fenton, has appeared in previous novels by Mr. Annesley, novels which have enjoyed large sales. But even if you never have heard of Lawrence Fenton, that won’t affect your reading of “Spy Against the Reich.” It’s our guess that you are going to find the days between installments long and heavy in your impatience to get at the next chapter.
Incidentally, should anyone doubt the possibility of a British agent getting into Germany and living there, all we can say is that we actually know an Englishman who, during the last war, got into Germany, moved about there for some months, then spent some time in Austria and in Turkey. Only one man besides himself knows how he did it, and that man isn’t us. Then, of course, John Buchan’s famous character “Greenmantle” was only a slightly embroidered portrait of a real agent whose identity is known to several Canadians.
! #To our way of thinking, a common fault with a lot of travel articles is that they don’t give answers to the sort of questions that stay-at-home folk would ask if Cousin Willie dropped in after a trip to some distant land. They would ask in a homey and personal way about how people live, and what they do, how they dress and look. Most likely they would get answers that would enable them to compare things with their own circumstances.
We have read a lot of articles about the countries of South America, but somehow or other, we have never really felt that we knew what sort of places they are until Ronald McEachem came back to the office from a trip down there. On page fourteen, Mr. McEachem gives the answers to a lot of our questions, and when you’ve read them we think you will have a pretty good general idea of what South America is like.
McEachem travelled 22,000 miles, almost all by air, and visited Jamaica, Colombia, Panama, Peru, Chile, Argen-
tina, Brazil, Trinidad and Cuba, stopping off at Washington on the way home for a round-up discussion with United States government officials. Other articles by him will appear in later issues.
He is a MacLeanPublishingCompany editor, and while he is entitled to stick the letters Ph.D. after his name if he wants to, his writings are anything but academic. The only time we have detected a trace of Ph.D.’ism was when we asked him how he stood 22,000 miles of flying in pretty much of a lump. Said he: “Down there they fly you most of the time at a height of 14,000 feet. Digestively I was all right. Metabolically, in my case it was rather trying.”
•There are not many square miles of Canadian territory over which R.C.A.F. student pilots are not flying almost every daylight hour. And from training centres a steadily increasing stream of well-schooled pilots, observers, gunners and ground crews is being directed to the battle skies of Britain. The Joint Air Training Plan, so far as personnel is concerned, is well into its stride, and on page ten, Kim Beattie, in “They’re ‘Naturals,’” measures that stride. Also he tells something of the planes our pilots will fly when they get to the other side.
•Douglas Reed holds to the opinion that 1941 will be the decisive year of the war. On page nine he tells why. Beverley Baxter’s London Letter is on page eighteen, and on page eight our own Politician With a Notebook keeps you posted on what has been going on Backstage at Ottawa.
•One of the top-ranking short story writers on this continent, Eve Burkhardt will earn the gratitude of a great many young men for having written “The Wedding Day,” which brightly dawns on page twelve. In it, she skilfully conveys the idea that almost the one essential frill for a really good wedding is a bridegroom. And we hope that all the Aunt Julias will make a careful note of that simple fact.
•Publication of Robert W. Service’s article in a recent issue has brought us a number of most interesting letters from readers who at one time or another had contact with the man who, in ballad and prose, wrote so vividly of the Yukon gold rush days. We are obliged to D. R. MacCarthy, of Princeton, B.C., for a clipping from the Similkameen Star recording the death in January, at Princeton, of “Salvation Jim” Wooler, the Yukon miner after whom Service patterned the central character in “The Ballad of Salvation Jim.” Wooler, who was seventy-nine, was bom at Hardwood Hill, Windsor Mills, County Richmond, P.Q.
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