To the editors:

John Stevenson’s review of Marge Piercy’s Gone to Soldiers [May 20] is an attempt to disguise an anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist diatribe as literary criticism.

As an editorial page commentary, it would be acceptable. Your decision to publish it as a serious book review is unconscionable.

Alan J. Birkner

Morton Grove

John Stevenson replies:

Yes, I wrote about many things in my review of Gone to Soldiers: about the meaning of World War II in world history and for the United States, about how that war shaped our era–and about the meaning of Israel as a “Jewish state” erected in Palestine by the victorious European and American powers in the wake of the war. All of this has to do with the meaning–social, political, moral–of Piercy’s novel. I guess it’s true that none of these topics–central as they are to the import of the book–are part of pure literary aesthetics. But so what?