Authors are not necessarily responsible for the dust jackets of their books, but a serious reader may feel a slight malaise when he sees two animistic sun symbols with faces, substituting for the two letters O in the word Look on the cover of The Americas Look at Each Other. His suspicion becomes a tremor of doubt when he finds on the inside of the jacket a blurb about the author by Havelock Ellis. Ellis was a leader in a field which may be defined as prescientific sexology; he died in 1939 at the age of eighty. Something seems to be wrong.

What is wrong is this collection of essays. The first one gives the flavor of the whole book—“Lord Byron’s South American Dream and the Greatness of Simón Bolívar.” An impossible task results in an impossible essay. “What would Byron have thought of Bolívar and Bolívar of Byron, and how well would these two geniuses have understood each other, had they ever met and spoken” (p. 35)? Who can say? The author spares himself the trouble of an answer by proceeding immediately to discuss Alexander Pope.

The second essay provides the title of the book, but it is rightly placed second, because it is inferior to the first essay. How is this possible? Whereas the first essay attempted to relate only two historically unrelated people, the second essay sets out to relate two or three dozen, from Cotton Mather to Milton Eisenhower.

The third and fourth essays deal inevitably with Rubén Darío and the United States, referring pointedly to Ariels and Calibans and adjuring : “Let Not Hate Shoot Its Bolt.” Further on a few lines in the book express sentiments worthy of their subjects, Alfonso Reyes and Gabriela Mistral. That’s about all.

To return for a moment to the dust jacket. Its principal color is chartreuse. It looks good enough to drink.