The great interest of William Barrett's new book ["The Truants"] is that it takes us inside the lives and the minds of one of [the] pivotal intellectual coteries—the Partisan Review circle as it emerged in the years immediately before and after World War II—and reexamines both its leading personalities and its governing ideas with an unusual degree of intimacy, intelligence and candor. "The Truants" is, first of all, an insider's vivid and poignant memoir. It closes, indeed, with its author in tears, and it contains many other pages that, without ever becoming mawkish or self-indulgent, stir the emotions.
The book is exceptionally well written, and it abounds in brilliant portraiture....
(The entire section is 2010 words.)