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September 29, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

MAD ABOUT THE SEVENTIES: The Best of the Decade by "The Usual Gang of Idiots" compiled by Grant Geissman (Little, Brown: $19.95, 224 pp., paperback original). During the '50s and '60s, the artists and writers at Mad developed a take-no-prisoners irreverence that put the magazine at the forefront of American humor. But their energy seemed to flag during the '70s as disillusionment spread and limits on taste were breached.

Many of the cartoons and parodies in this latest anthology remain funny; however, their self-conscious and often self-righteous political stance lacks the anarchic glee of earlier decades.

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