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Going by the Book

June 01, 1986|DON JAMES | James is a Los Angeles free-lance writer.

For nuts-and-bolts information, "The American's Tourist Manual for the U.S.S.R." should help anyone traveling behind the Iron Curtain. John E. Felber has compiled an explicit guide complete with maps. Check with your bookstore because International Intertrade Index, Newark, N.J., didn't supply the cost.

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Worth the luggage space is "Rand McNally's Road Atlas and City Guide--Europe" ($12.95). It's not just a collection of maps of each country and 85 cities, but includes lots of general details that a vacationer will find very informative.

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The Berlitz "Moscow and Leningrad" ($4.95) is a good before-leaving briefing. It's mostly color photos supplemented with enough text and maps for starters.

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Barron's "Chinese at a Glance" is a phrase book and a bilingual dictionary that, along with a bit of body English and hand-waving, should put you a few steps ahead of the average traveler ($5.95).

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Part of the fun of traveling is to bring home a gift for someone special. Susan Schneider Thomas' guides "Born to Shop Italy" ($5.95) and "Born to Shop France" ($6.95) offer a handy reference for advice on where and how to get the most for the money. The books include some planned shopping trips, plus how to be aware of name-brands or their counterfeits. There's some good advice about how to pay, customs, shipping, etc. (Bantam).

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Anthony Glyn's "The Companion Guide to Paris" is best described as having an old Parisian friend show you around the city. It is written in conversational style that provides a close and almost total insight (Prentice-Hall: $10.95).

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"The March to Victory--A Guide to World War II Battles and Battlefields from London to the Rhine" by John T. Bookman and Stephen T. Powers is an almost complete compendium of that confrontation. Buffs or participants should find the text, photos and maps of where the fighting occurred enlightening. Locations of the museums and monuments and memorials of the combat are also well defined (Harper & Row: $9.95).

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Fodor's has three more guides for 1986, "Pacific North Coast--Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Southeast Alaska" ($9.95), "New Zealand" and "South Pacific" ($7.95 each). The guides are not large but offer an excellent collection of facts and observations including where to stay, eat and what to see.

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"You Can Travel Free" by Robert W. Kirk is a comprehensive guide to worldwide transportation, lodging, attractions. Hundreds of ideas and sources on how to take advantage of many "freebie" opportunities. The $7.95 tab is worth the investment and feeling of off-beat accomplishment (Pelican).

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The gray text with no maps or photos is at first deceiving. However, the Collier World Traveler Series' "Great Britain and Ireland" and "Italy" ($6.95 each) do offer bits of practical advice directed at the traveler wanting to get behind the scenes. As a supplement, one of these could expand your horizon.

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"Your Key to America's Fine Bed & Breakfast and Country Inns" is presented by InnServ, a nationwide reservation service. If you're a serious B&Ber this guide should put you a step ahead. A potentially more enjoyable accommodation may be at your fingertips with this guide. It's available for $5.65 postpaid from InnServ, P.O. Box 301 Dept. N64, Eaton, Ind. 47338.

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"Natural Chicago" by Bill and Phyllis Thomas guides the visitor into seldom-explored areas. Photos of lily pads and feeding ducks intersperse the homey, informative text (Holt, Rinehart & Winston: $12.95).

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Christina Dodwell has chronicled her adventures in various parts of the world. The latest is "A Traveler in China." It is a fascinating revelation of a wanderlust's exploration of seldom-seen beauty. Should you accept a similar challenge, her treatise would be a before-leaving revelation (Beaufort: $15.95).

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Bob Kane's guides "France" and "Britain" are subtitled "At Its Best." The in-depth information will serve you well and can be best described as don't-leave-home-without-a-copy material (Passport Books: $9.95 each).

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