Picks and Pans Review: American Chronicle

updated 07/13/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/13/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Lois and Alan Gordon

Anyone in the market for trivia will find 565 big, enjoyable, dizzying pages of the stuff in this volume. Compiled by an English professor at New Jersey's Fairleigh Dickinson University and her psychiatrist husband, it is subtitled Six Decades in American Life and covers all of those 60 years in exhaustive—and exhausting—detail. To wit: The Richter scale for measuring earthquake magnitude was first used in 1935. In 1939 Mum deodorant was running an ad campaign that asked, "Has your girl turned into a refrigerator? If her air is arctic, try..." Snuffy Stirnweiss led the American League in 1945 with a .309 batting average. Bela Lugosi died in 1956. The Beverly Hillbillies and Candid Camera were the two top-rated TV shows of 1962. Bay scallops cost 95 cents a pound in 1966. In 1970 Vice President Spiro Agnew described the Scranton Report on the Kent State shootings as "Pablum for the permissivists." In 1975 Charleston, S.C. passed a law requiring horse owners to diaper their animals. Some people may end up wishing there were an index for all this, though that might have added another 200 pages to what is already a chunky book. Others may enjoy looking for errors and typos. (The book refers to jazz bassist Artie Bernstein as "Artis" when identifying Downbeat's all-star band of 1943 and erroneously places the National Football League's Bobby Joe Conrad in the then-rival American Football League in 1963.) This is not really a book for nitpickers, though. It is for data gluttons, and it is a feast and a half. (Atheneum, $39.95)

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