BODYWATCHING by Desmond Morris Crown; 256 pages; $25
Zoologist turned Author Desmond Morris had a remunerative idea when he wrote The Naked Ape (1967), a work of pop anthropology that appealed to millions of book-buying bipeds. Bodywatching repeats such monkey business, this time with illustrations. Morris announces his intention "to treat the body surface as if it were a strange landscape." In practice, this means giving separate chapters and full photographic uncoverage to such geographic features as eyes, ears, nose, neck, shoulders and belly, not to mention those areas that the lads of Monty Python's Flying Circus once referred to as "the naughty bits."
There are plenty of these, especially in the pictures. Bare female breasts bob up in odd contexts, including a chapter devoted to the human back. Faced with such visual competition, Morris tries to keep his text and captions full of breathtaking assertions. Scarcely a smidgen of the 17 sq. ft. of skin that covers an average human escapes his hypotheses. Brooke Shields' full eyebrows and the small noses sported by contemporary male matinee idols both have something to do with the rise of feminism in the West. "The shape of the female navel has changed in recent years," Morris announces, a statement that, if true, ought to make headlines the world over. But worrying about such matters as truth is a function of the brain, an organ that does not fall within the fleshly delights of Bodydwatching.
WORD OF HONOR by Nelson DeMille Warner; 518 pages; $17.50
It is every veteran's nightmare. The battle has long been over, and the honorable discharge is gathering dust in the attic. Then word comes: the ex-soldier has been recalled to active duty. In this case he is former Lieut. Ben Tyson, whose company once massacred civilians in a covered-up atrocity bearing more than a coincidental resemblance to the one at My Lai. When an investigative journalist reveals damning new evidence, Tyson is hauled before a court-martial on charges of mass murder. Is he guilty? Will a military tribunal be more vindictive than civilian justice? Can any circumstances mitigate an atrocity? Does a 17-year-old incident still have the power to shock? Indeed it does, and Nelson DeMille, who served as a lieutenant in Viet Nam, knows exactly how to employ his surge within us"), but the military scenes have the gunmetal ring of authenticity. This is The Caine Mutiny of the '80s, a long, over-the-shoulder look at a time that grows larger as it recedes from sight.
1988 by Richard Lamm and Arnold Grossman; St. Martin's Press 264 pages; $15.95