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'Good Dog. Stay.'

By Anna Quindlen

Random House, $14.95

Quindlen, noted political analyst and sometime novelist, has come around to the subject most writers reach in their lives — dogs.

She writes about her black Labrador Beau and his companion Bea (the white dog with the author on the back of the book jacket).

Unlike humans who occasionally talk back (Quindlen remembers her daughter saying, "Mom, I am not you"), dog's don't.

That's a blessing. It's part of their "charm," writes Quindlen. Dogs are also "open-faced," meaning they never look at you "with contempt or indifference." With a dog, you get "companionship without question or criticism."

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'A Ball, a Dog, and a Monkey'

By Michael D'Antonio

Simon and Schuster, $26

Reminiscing about experimentation in space, D'Antonio recounts Russia's space success with Sputnik 1, an orbital satellite, in 1957, and how worried Americans became that "Russia had passed us by."

President Dwight Eisenhower reassured America that it was not a military catastrophe — then Sputnik II whirled around the Earth with a dog inside, the first animal in space. D'Antonio argues that from 1958 on, Americans went "space crazy."

Finally, not to be outdone by the Russians, on Dec. 13, 1958, America launched the first primate in space — a small monkey nicknamed Old Reliable.

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'Scattering of the Saints'

Edited by Newell Bringhurst and John Hamer

John Whitmer Books, $24.95


Members of the LDS Church are often irritated that some media reports mix them up with break-off groups, such as fundamentalists who still practice polygamy 117 years after the Manifesto officially ended it within Mormonism.

This is just the book for anyone confused by Mormons and their splinter groups — i.e., Lyman Wight, whose group moved to Texas; William Smith, who engineered a "schismatic odyssey" in 1844; James J. Strang and his flock at Beaver Island, Mich.; the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is now known as the Community of Christ; and others.

In individual essays, the stories of all the Mormon break-off groups are here, a genuine intellectual contribution.