Oldies but goodies for '94 reading

Monday Books

January 03, 1994|By Myron Beckenstein

IF you are looking for a quick and easy list of the Best Books of 1993, sorry, you've come to the wrong place. I wouldn't be so presumptuous as to impose my taste on everyone, even if I had had the time to read everything written last year and still had a modicum of sanity left and an ounce of time to scribble down my wisdom.

Instead, this is a listing of good books culled from a year's reading and recommended as worth checking out if the subject interests you. Not all the books are new. Most aren't.

There are more good books on library shelves than on best-seller lists. But some are new and may be in bookstores.

An Anthropology of Everyday Life, by Edward T. Hall

The autobiography of the pioneering American anthropologist tells a fascinating story of his peripatetic growing up and how various encounters helped shape his theories on how people actually send messages to one another, even if most of us aren't aware of the transmissions.

Bones: A Forensic Detective's Casebook, by Douglas Ubelaker and Henry Scamell; What the Bones Tell Us, by Jeffrey H. Schwartz

True-life mysteries, both modern and archaeological, in which the bodies tell the tales. The Ubelaker book includes a number of case studies, a few from Maryland. The Schwartz book is more for the specialist, but gets into much more detail on how bones can supply information and solve riddles.

Dawn Over Saratoga, by Fred J. Cook

Saratoga was the pivotal battle of America's pivotal but forgotten war, the Revolution. Mr. Cook tells the story of Saratoga -- how it came about, what happened, what the consequences were -- most readably, with color and insight.

Lenin's Tomb, by David Remnick

A long but very compelling account of the last days of the Soviet Union as it suddenly found itself heading for the ash heap of history. Told on the grand scale and on the small by a reporter who covered it.

The Long Death, by Ralph K. Andrist

Many books have recounted the story of the Indians in their unequal battle with history and geography. But few can match this feeling, classic account of the reluctant demise of the plains tribes.

Outcast, by Inge Deutschkron; Stella, by Peter Wyden; Walls, by Hiltgunt Zassenhaus

Three different looks at life in Nazi Germany by three very different and very untypical Germans: about a Jew hiding in public, about a Jew who betrayed other Jews and about a Christian who risked all by helping POWs to have a somewhat better life.

Outwitting Squirrels, by Bill Adler Jr.

Anyone who ever has tried to put up a bird feeder knows squirrels are not just dumb animals who can't figure out how to cross streets without getting hit by cars. They can outwit any feeder yet devised. This book lets you know how smart they are. It is not encouraging.

With Liberty and Justice for Some, by David Kairys

An impassioned look at how the Bill of Rights is getting squeezed beyond recognition by a series of Supreme Court rulings that don't give much heed to the grade-school view of the Constitution. Told with a definite point of view, but packed with facts.

FICTION:

Nick of the Woods, by Robert Montgomery Bird

A real oldie, written some 150 years ago, this is tough to find but worth the effort. The story of life in old Kentucky with those pesky Indians on the warpath, it provides a fairly contemporary view of how American settlers actually viewed the Indians and how the two peoples got along.

Rampage, by William P. Wood

Sometimes a legal thriller becomes wildly popular, sometimes an equally good one doesn't. Most of this novel is as good as those that have soared to recent best-sellerdom and movie fame. A grisly killing, an ever-twisting trial.

Trustee From the Toolroom, by Nevil Shute

As with so many of Nevil Shute's works, the story is in the quiet telling as much as in the plot. Keith Stewart sets out from $H England for the South Pacific to look after his niece-ward's inheritance. Her mother is killed in a plane crash. Getting there is two-thirds of the entertainment.

Myron Beckenstein is assistant foreign editor of The Sun.

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