When Morris Martin gave up a promising academic career to ‘work for a better world’, eye-brows were raised, dons were dubious, and tradition was abruptly overthrown. The adventure took the author, ‘armed with my Ph.D. and a naive understanding of a world going through the Depression,’ from the halls of Oxford, to Hitler’s Germany, from Capetown to Calcutta, and more than once around the globe. The tale is enlivened by his association with newsmakers of the day, including Moral Re-Armament founder Frank Buchman, with whom he worked closely for twenty years. We learn behind-the-scene stories of historic events, including details of Martin’s personal involvement in the post-World War II reconciliation of France and Germany. ‘ln my nineties,’ says the author from his home in Tucson, Arizona, ‘I am proud of two happy marriages, of becoming an American citizen with an English accent, and of having had four different lives, each of which has taken me “a little further”.
‘At the border crossing into the Third Reich I tried to hide the copies of Rising Tide under the bulky cast on my leg. Those 250 copies were the only ones to get into the country before the propaganda ministry banned the publication as decadent democratic propaganda.’
‘Joan Crawford was lying languidly on a settee when I heard her give the line. It was now or never. I walked out in front of the cameras, raised my hand and said, “Stop!” Panic broke out all over the set. George Cukor rose from his director’s chair and said, “Who the hell do you think you are?”’
‘It was quite dark, not a light showed in the village as we approached Robert Schuman’s home. We tugged at the ancient bell-pull and knocked. Nothing. We knocked and pulled again. When we were finally about to give up, the shutters above us opened and Monsieur le Président, in his pyjamas and wearing a nightcap, peered down on us.’