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From underwater to outerspace

WILD OCEAN: America's Parks Under the Sea By Sylvia A. Earle and Wolcott Henry National Geographic

LAND OF THE WINGED HORSEMEN: ART IN POLAND, 1572-1764 By Jan K. Ostrowski Yale University Press

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VALLEY OF THE GRIZZLIES By Robert H. Busch St. Martin's Press


THE PLANETS By David McNab and James Younger Yale University Press

One of the less known achievements of America's national parks and conservation programs is the existence of 12 marine sanctuaries, protecting 18,000 square miles of ocean. From Stellwagen Bank off the coast of Massachusetts to the humpback whale sanctuary in the Hawaiian Islands, the sanctuaries cover a wide range of seaside and underwater territory (or should one say aquatory?). Some, like the Olympic Coast off Washington, boast particularly rich concentrations of sea mammals. Others, like the Florida Keys, abound in coral, sponges, sharks, turtles, angelfish, not to mention the mermaid-like manatees and astonishing mangroves. In Wild Ocean, Sylvia Earle, a marine scientist, author, and lecturer who holds the world record for the deepest untethered dive (1,000 meters), and her co-author, Wolcott Henry, a conservationist and underwater photographer, have put together an enthralling book that will fill readers with a profound sense of wonder at the vastness, complexity, and beauty to be found in the world beneath the waves.

In its Baroque era, the years 1572-1764, Poland saw itself as defending Christian Europe from the incursions of Islam. It was an age that gave rise to the erroneous belief that Poland's warrior caste was descended from an ancient nomadic Iranian people known as the Sarmatians, and the image of the winged horsemen featured prominently in the art of the period. An intriguing mix of Eastern and Western styles can be seen in the paintings, religious artifacts, jewels, clothing, furnishing, and weaponry displayed in the pages of Land of the Winged Horsemen. The essays on Polish history and culture that accompany the photographs in this handsome book are lively and informative.

Wildlife photographer Robert Busch's venture into the beautiful Mansell River Valley in British Columbia offered him a rare opportunity to observe the giant bears doing what they do naturally. Majestic, intelligent, and surprisingly peaceable, the massive creatures in Valley of the Grizzlies spend much of their time grazing on grass, chomping on roots, and raking berries from bushes. Busch dispels many of the unflattering myths that have grown up around this species: even the snarling image of a stuffed grizzly, mouth wide open, teeth and gums bared, is a fake product of unscrupulous taxidermy, he tells us, as it is physically impossible for live bears to assume such an expression! Busch's gorgeous photographs convey a vivid sense of place and offer intimate glimpses of life among the grizzlies. His text is sympathetic, sensible, informative, and entertaining.

Famous for his exuberantly imaginative, wildly funny children's books, cartoonist and writer Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was also editorial cartoonist during World War II for the short-lived but much admired newspaper PM. Dr. Seuss Goes to War demonstrates that Geisel pulled no punches when it came to castigating appeasers and isolationists. He was just as tough on war profiteers, hoarders, and employers who refused to hire blacks and Jews. His major weak spot (duly pointed out by Minear, a historian specializing in Japan during World War II) was that he, like most of his fellow countrymen, considered Japanese-Americans a potential fifth column. Vigorous, trenchant, and vividly memorable, Geisel's cartoons, accompanied by Minear's helpful commentary, are a salutary reminder of an era in which patriotism and liberalism went hand in hand.

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From planet Earth, its moon, and our "near" neighbors, Mercury, Venus, and Mars to giant Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, and the moon of distant Pluto, The Planets not only looks at the bodies in our solar system, but even those beyond. This book is lavishly illustrated with striking photographs from the Voyager mission. The authors, producers of science documentaries for the BBC, examine their subject in the context of recent discoveries. We learn almost as much about the scientists and astronauts as about the planets.

* Merle Rubin reviews books regularly for the Monitor.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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