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Now in Paperback

August 04, 1985|ALEX RAKSIN

A Documentary History of the United States, Richard D. Heffner (NAL). Politics in paperback, from Tom Paine's "Common Sense" to President Reagan's version of it in 1981 and 1985. In this fourth (and first paperback) edition of a 1952 work, Heffner leaves the polemics to America's most prominent orators, adding only short historical notes before each section. The result is a concise yet comprehensive glimpse into the rhetoric and reason that have shaped this nation.

The Lecherous Professor: Sexual Harassment on Campus, Billie Wright Dziech, Linda Weiner (Beacon). While the problem clearly exists--in recent college surveys, 7-47% of female students reported sexual harassment--the solutions aren't as evident. The authors first examine potential causes, such as the tolerance of eccentricity and "the fluid, changing and confused" rules governing a tightly-knit "community of scholars." Most valuable, however, is the book's practical advice on warning signs, methods of prevention and ethics.

The Life Cycle Completed, Erik H. Erikson (Norton). To Erikson, maturity never stunts psychological growth. While young adults struggle with problems of "intimacy vs. isolation," for instance, middle age brings the conflict of "generativity vs. stagnation." Basic human strengths, meanwhile, evolve from love to care to wisdom. In this essay, Erikson, now in his 80s, also elaborates on the Freudian parallel between individual growth and mankind's emergence from its own primeval pre-history.

Lying in Bed, Mark Harris (McGraw-Hill). An English professor/novelist suffers what he hopes is temporary impotence and writer's block while his long-suffering wife flies around the country visiting their grown children. He writes to everyone he trusts who might be able to solve his problems. One Los Angeles surgeon wants to install an unflagging implant, promising, "It will be gorgeous."

Sex and Repression in Savage Society, Bronislaw Malinowski (University of Chicago). By arguing that Freudian analysis is colored by Western prejudice, Malinowski shook the foundations of social science when this work first appeared in 1927. The book concluded that the Oedipus complex stemmed from patriarchal family structures in the West, not universal human traits. While Malinowski's findings have since come under harsh fire from anthropologists, the book remains valuable for its observations about the origins of culture and the oversimplifications of science.

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation: People, Power and Politics, Helena Cobban (Cambridge). Profiling the largest group within the PLO--Al Fateh--Cobban, a former correspondent for the London Sunday Times, offers the first comprehensive political analysis of the PLO to appear in English since the early 1970s. The book also features appendixes on the revised Palestinian National Charter and on Soviet and American policies toward the PLO. While much of the book dispassionately describes the conflict with Israel, Cobban's analysis is colored by her conviction that the creation of a Palestinian state is the only path toward peace.

A Lifetime's Reading: The World's 500 Greatest Books, Philip Ward (Stein & Day). Arabic, Hindi, Tibetan and Hungarian classics are among the selections made by Ward, an author who wrote this book to help readers in the "bewildering" search for literary treasures. Fifty chapters cover an eclectic range of fiction, drama, philosophy and poetry.

The Mirror Makers: A History of American Advertising and Its Creators, Stephen Fox (Vintage). "To blame advertising is too obvious," Fox writes, "too easy a matter of killing the messenger instead of dealing with the bad news." After profiling dozens of key players on Madison Avenue, he concludes that advertising reflects, rather than creates, the "selfish and practical considerations" of Americans. Fox, however, never explores the possibility that advertising could encourage our more primitive passions.

The Bounty Trilogy, Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall (Atlantic/Little, Brown). Even if you've seen all four movie versions (the first an obscure Australian production) of this classic seafaring saga, Nordhoff and Hall's fictionalized version of history will abound in surprises for you. "Mutiny on the Bounty" is the familiar story of the mutiny, but told from the perspective of a skeptical observer; "Men Against the Sea" relates the drama of the 19 crew members set adrift with the captain in a 23-foot open launch; "Pitcairn's Island" chronicles the fate of the mutineers. Fifty years after publication, Nordhoff and Hall's trilogy stands on its own as an entertaining--and informative--look at life on board those great sailing ships.

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