It is rare for historians to write novels, rarer for them to write good novels, and rarer still for them to bring historical materials and the historian's view of the world to the composition of their fiction. David Caute has done all three. "The Decline of the West" is perhaps better as fictional history than as a work of art, but it is still an important and imposing novel.
Mr. Caute … knows Africa, France and the United States, and he has used his knowledge to build a dramatic story of the struggle for power in a newly independent African republic—a former French colony whose vicissitudes resemble those of the ex-Belgian Congo….
This is, in one sense, an old-fashioned book...
(The entire section is 569 words.)