Book Reviews : Discretionary Justice: A Preliminary Inquiry. By KENNETH CULP DAVIS. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1969. Pp. xii, 233. $8.50.)

AuthorJohn E. Moore
Published date01 December 1970
Date01 December 1970
Subject MatterArticles
to be in line with this author’s views, he finds its report an &dquo;unimpressive piece of
work.&dquo; A main criticism is the Committee’s allegedly piecemeal, uncoordinated
approach with &dquo;no synoptic view of machinery of Government.&dquo; More specifically,
what is needed is &dquo;a detailed consideration of the working relationships between
Ministers and their departments.&dquo; The same criticism could apply equally to the
author’s own book and indeed to most studies of personnel or organization or of
policy-making -
and in all countries. We sorely need studies of systems, of their
inputs and outputs, their ecologies and their cultures, and the interactions of their
parts. How else can one assess the effects upon governance of Britain’s staid, stable,
gentlemen &dquo;all-rounders&dquo; or compare that system for example with the quadren-
nial or octennial whirligig of the United States, which so many Europeans view
with dismay as unrelieved chaos?
I have often regretted and envied the lucidity and eloquence of British writers,
particularly scholars, in their mastery of our nearly common language. (Among
the principal American exceptions are those few who studied at Oxford.) If I may
be permitted a bit of literary chauvinism, this book tips the balance a little the
other way. It is repetitive; contains pages and pages of quotations as well as foot-
notes in tiny print; and provides few such aids to the reader as summaries or even
declaratory sentences. Its Chapter VI, which is entitled &dquo;Conclusion,&dquo; is exactly
110 pages long. It contains few conclusions but a vast amount of what appears
to be new material, including the equivalent of no less than 45 pages of footnotes
and quotations in fine print. Scholars who are comfortably financed and thor-
oughly immersed in the subject of the British administrative class will find this
book useful. Otherwise, I recommend it as good bedtime reading for those who are
in no hurry and for whom amnesia is no...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT