Picks and Pans Review: The Goodness of Ordinary People: True Stories from Real Americans

updated 05/06/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/06/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Faith Middleton

Beware of the guilt pangs that may accompany reading this book. You know you're supposed to warm to these fables of everyday virtue, which were culled by Middleton, host of her own public radio call-in show, from stories listeners recounted on the air. But just a few of them come to life.

The story of a mother's courage in wartime Germany sings, but that's because Middleton runs verbatim a compelling letter from the German immigrant who has this tale to tell. The book might have had more emotional punch when it was told on live radio. Middleton's retelling, however, has reduced most of the stories to dry, unremarkable incidents. (Crown, $23)

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