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Now in Paperback

October 20, 1985|ALEX RAKSIN

The Smoke Ring: Tobacco, Money & Multinational Politics, Peter Taylor (Mentor). An engaging, sprightly, yet well-documented expose of the tobacco industry's struggle to protect sales. Peter Taylor, a BBC reporter, reveals how the industry has prevented anti-smoking messages from reaching the U.S. public and encouraged Third World nations to become dependent on tobacco. Taylor has updated this 1984 book to spotlight the recent political pressures he says have forestalled federal programs to reduce the smoking habits of Americans, an addiction that causes 340,000 premature deaths in the United States each year, according to the surgeon general. According to former Rep. Eugene Johnston (R-N.C.), President Reagan told tobacco magnate J. C. Galloway, "I can guarantee that my own Cabinet members will be far too busy with substantive matters to waste their time proselytizing against the dangers of cigarette smoking." Taylor's book abounds with other instances of the political squeeze, such as one in which an anti-smoking TV spot aimed at girls was removed from the air after a group of conservative legislators deemed that the spot's star, Brooke Shields, was not "a suitable role model."

Excuses: Masquerades in Search of Grace, C. P. Snyder, Raymond L. Higgins, Rita J. Stucky (Wiley) presents a conclusion that will be obvious to most--"excuses are self-defense mechanisms," is made lifeless by an abundance of subheads, and employs the notion of "excuse-behavior" to explain an all too-wide range of social, philosophical and psychological problems. Even so, the authors, psychologists at the University of Kansas-Lawrence, offer practical advice in this in-depth study, recognizing that "dangerously high levels of stress and possible damage to (one's) self-esteem" will result if everyone is "fully aware and accepting of his or her freedom and responsibility."

The Best of Photojournalism/10: Newspaper and Magazine Pictures of the Year (National Press Photographers Assn./Running Press). We all become voyeurs while looking at news photographs. Intimate and unsparing, they spotlight people we don't know in victory and, more often, in defeat. Some of the award-winning 1984 photos collected here border on the lurid--floods, freaks and car accidents. But most capture the time--from the Olympics to William Schroeder--and the timeless: Argentine soldiers joining hands to prevent tanks from harming a duck and her ducklings as they cross the street. Photos of the exiled are among the most poignant in this book: Ethiopian refugees marching single file across an endless desert in a long journey to Sudan, a family in El Salvador climbing up the wall of a collapsed bridge in hope of fleeing the war-torn Jucuran Province.

A History of the Jewish People, edited by H. H. Ben-Sasson (Harvard). This 1969 work by six scholars at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, translated in 1976, has won wide acclaim as the most comprehensive work in its field. More than 1,100 pages chronicle Jewish experiences and achievements from Canaan before the Israelite conquest to the consolidation of the state of Israel. The authors' depth and breadth of knowledge is equally vast: Drawing upon such often-neglected historical sources as Talmudic literature, they document events in detail while exploring a panorama of Jewish issues. One chapter, for example, looks at "The Social Ideals of Jewry at the End of the Middle Ages," while another examines "Integration into a Non-Jewish World."

A Future That Will Work: Competitiveness and Compassion, David Owen (Praeger). Popular opinion has it that commitment to an egalitarian, classless society and industrial growth are antithetical concepts. Calling the theories of John Maynard Keynes back into vogue, David Owen, leader of Great Britain's Social Democrat Party since 1983, offers the flip side to that view, arguing compellingly that societies can only grow by preserving and enhancing their environments.

Concrete Island, J. G. Ballard (Vintage). Robert Maitland is driving over a high-speed interchange near London when his Jaguar suffers a blowout, plunging down an embankment. "The sequence of violent events only microseconds in duration had opened and closed behind him like a vent of hell," writes J. G. Ballard prophetically, for the remainder of this novel chronicles Maitland's isolation from his family after the accident. Moments after the crash, the 35-year-old architect is able to maintain an acute sensitivity to the events around him, but, after a young woman finds him, taking him into her own private world, Maitland loses his awareness of the symbols governing everyday life, gaining, in the process, a greater self-awareness.

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