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Our Times: The Illustrated History of the 20th Century

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Our Times: The Illustrated History of the 20th Century (Turner Publishing, $65) The good news: Mankind has nearly survived another century. The bad news: This will likely be the first of a pile of books coinciding with said event. At least this one is fun to read. It looks like a slick magazine, full of snappy photography and sidebars, literary excerpts and essays (by the likes of Stephen J. Gould and Arthur C. Clarke), all set within a decade-by-decade structure. The tome lists Walter Bernard, Milton Glaser, and Daniel Okrent as ”creative directors,” and what they have created contains as much pop as history. Wars and political milestones almost get overshadowed by a hundred years of continuous mass entertainment, from Mae West to Bugs Bunny, to 007, to Saturday Night Fever. If you want a more serious take on this century, look elsewhere. But as a handy guide to our times, this fills the bill just fine. B+