The Savage Mind by Claude Levi-Strauss Translated by George Weidenfeld The certainty that the boundaries of one's society define the frontiers of humanity--that all societies outside the boundary are thereby equally outside the pale of reason, mere clusters of gibbering savages--is curiously widespread. In the Western world, the certainty takes the form of a grand dichotomy, and all of mankind is split into two mutually exhaustive and contrastive camps, the primitive and the civilized.
Colonel Robert B. Rheault, the former commander of the Special Forces in South Vietnam, seems destined to be the Army's equivalent of Commander Bucher of the ill-fated Navy ship Pueblo. Commander Bucher and his men were captured by the North Koreans, held prisoners and maltreated, then released only to be subjected to a court of inquiry and almost court-martialed.
Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicleby Vladimir Nabokov(McGraw-Hill; $8.95)If the first reviews are any indication Ada may become the most over-praised novel of the decade. The ready superlatives of commerce and publicity have joined with the exegetical talents of a new breed of critics to launch an instant masterpiece. This would be curious and revealing even if Ada merely fell short of greatness.
The first shot: in the middle of the vast Panavision-Technicolor screen, a closeup of two flowers, in soft focus. It looks like Red Desert revisited. There are distant buzzes on the sound track. The camera moves lowly over a greensward with figures on it, still misty and gentle. Then--wham!--we cut to a roadway, the buzzes turn into roars, and cars are whizzing at us. It's a racing picture! Those opening ten seconds of Winning are a sketch of the changes in American culture in the past decade or so.
Robert McNamara, president of the World Bank, spoke to a gathering of Roman Catholics at Notre Dame University recently and told them in a most polite but chilling fashion what the world can expect unless it is able to contain the population explosion. "To project the totals beyond the year 2000 becomes so demanding on the imagination," Mr. McNamara said, "as to make the statistics almost incomprehensible. A child born today living on into his seventies, would know a world of 15 billion.