By Bill Marsano. Irving was one of the first if not the very first American writer to win an international reputation. Oddly enough that was just about the time the British litterateur Sidney Smith published  his notorious and condescending "Who Reads an American Book?" which insulted Americans as a people modestly clever and always busy but utterly without creative genius of any kind. [Like many others of his country,men, Smith never quite got over the American Revolution.] Well, Irving sure showed him. Sort of: In this book he is a resolute anglophile, bathing himself in the cosiness of English country life of the early 19th Century much as Downton Abbey fans do today. It's all romanticized and glowingly artificial--again, like Downton Abbey, but he writes bout the hearty squire rather than the pompous lord. Irving is much better in his writings about Old Dutch New York and even his stuff about Moorish Spain. This, while highly literate and always graceful, is what E.B. White once called 'genial prose.' That is, likable, companionable and above all comfortable stuff that is mildly amusing but rarely if ever actually humorous. In short, as Lincoln said [or is said to have said] 'People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like.'--Bill Marsano is an award-winning writer and editor of, it rather pains him to say, 50 years' experience.