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Specialty Bestsellers

January 02, 1994

I was thrilled to see an African-American bestseller list. As a visitor from New York City, I was glad to see the Times acknowledge the cultural diversity of Los Angeles readers. As previous letter writers have stated, we are all Americans, but I might add that our cultural differences add spice to the "melting pot."

In future, you might have a Latino section.

I find it quite interesting that some of your obviously white readers were offended by the small amount of print given to the African-American section. It's a pity that they should be so insecure.

CHRISTOPHER DAVIS, NEW YORK CITY

Editor's note: The African-American bestseller list we reprinted Nov. 28 was produced, as we explained at the bottom of the list, by an organization called Blackboard African-American Bestsellers in cooperation with the American Booksellers Assn. Blackboard polls African-American specialty bookstores nationwide to produce a monthly list. We intend to reprint various bestseller lists that reflect specialties of the book market (children's books, science fiction, Christian, audio, etc.) on an occasional basis, and would entertain suggestions for other interesting lists.

WARS JUST DON'T 'HAPPEN'

Tell John Balzar ("Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War," Book Review, Oct. 17) that wars don't "happen." They are not earthquakes or hurricanes. They are man-made disasters.

TANJA WINTER, LA JOLLA

A WAR ON WORDS

The mutilation of language continues. John Balzar reviewing "Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War" parrots the Bush propaganda-rationalization regarding the "combat-hardened fourth largest army in the world." As Bush did, Balzar omits mentioning how that colossal menace had attempted for eight long years to overrun its neighbor Iran, and had failed to get past the border. Wow! "Hitler!" "Goliath!" "Awesome military might!" Hooey.

What is inexcusable is the continued misuse of the word war to describe (dignify?) what was undeniably a massacre.

Both language and reason were mutilated for that exercise of "the arrogance of power"--Bush's infamous "I had no choice" being a ludicrous but chilling example.

If author Rick Atkinson and reviewer Balzar were to witness Mike Tyson smashing Pee Wee Herman into a bloody, mangled pulp, would they refer to what they saw as a fight ?

No. When Balzar uses the phrase "lopsided conflict" he moves closer to the truth. But he assures us, "Still, it was war." Nonsense.

Historians who misuse language, whether by carelessness or intent, distort the reality of events. Unfortunately, the distortion eventually becomes "history."

Any who persist in referring to that massacre as a war, or who regard Schwarzkopf as admirable, surely must yearn for the spectacle of a man killing ants with a sledgehammer.

JAMES B. KENNEDY, REDONDO BEACH

MORE WAR

Re William Broyles, Jr.'s excellent review of "A History of Warfare" (Dec. 19), to quote Bill Mauldin, erstwhile satirist and cartoonist of WWII: "In war there's two groups, there's them that's been shot at and them that ain't."

KEITH R. MATZINGER, CAMARILLO

A NOSE FOR PROSE

Thank you for the best line in the Los Angeles Times Book Review in years, to whit: "Clio smells." So did the novel, and so did the review of Susannah Moore's "Sleeping Beauties" (Nov. 14).

LEONORA HOLDER de AVILA, LONG BEACH

A FAIR TO REMEMBER

The review of "World of Fairs" (Nov. 14) meant nostalgia time for me, but one element was missing, namely any reference to World War II. Ever since the war I have considered it peculiar that so many nations contributed to the make-believe of the New York World's Fair of 1939-1940, while they were gearing up for war or hiding their heads in the sand--whichever applied. And in particular, the review omits mention that the fair ran a second year.

In 1940, in the daytime, the fair was like the Los Angeles County Fair multiplied a thousand times. After the sun went down, the lights of the beautiful Belgian building reminded one that Belgium itself was in hiatus. Oh, the Germans were not there on the streets, but their specter hung over the grounds, to be sure. So the nostalgia is bittersweet.

GILBERT S. BAHN, MOORPARK

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