TIME: 85 YEARS OF GREAT WRITING, edited by Christopher Porterfield, Time Books, 560 pages, $39.95

It's anniversary time for Time, which was launched in 1923 and has published continuously for 85 years.

Christopher Porterfield, a veteran Time correspondent, assisted by a team of Time researchers, has culled the Time archives to select some of the most significant articles to appear in this collection.

Over its long history, such famed writers as James Agee, John McPhee, Nancy Gibbs, Elie Wiesel, Garrison Keillor, John Hersey, Stephen Hawking, Paul O'Neill, Calvin Trillin and more than 70 others have contributed to the understanding of America's cultural, social and political history.

Subjects include groundbreaking articles, to mention a few, on Bill Gates, Allen Ginsberg and Frank Sinatra; TV's "Show of Shows," starring Sid Caesar, and "M*A*S*H," with Alan Alda; major discoveries by Jonas Salk and other frontiers of medicine; "The Viagra Craze"; Men of the Year (Franklin D. Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler); and "A Brief History of Einstein's Theory of Relativity."

Other topics include the Scopes Trial, which pitted Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan in a confrontation over evolution; a profile of Edward VIII, who abdicated the British throne to marry Wallis Simpson, a commoner; the first human heart transplant; the fall of Saigon to communist troops in 1975; the Iranian hostage crisis that cost Jimmy Carter his presidency; a tribute to Joe DiMaggio, one of the golden players of baseball; and careful coverage of the most difficult portions of the Iraq war.

Also included are 16 color pages depicting some of the more memorable Time covers, including Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Rita Hayworth, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, Hitler, Lawrence Olivier, Mohandas Gandhi, Eva Peron, Jackie Robinson, Louis Armstrong, Ernest Hemingway, Dave Brubeck, Charles de Gaulle, Alec Guinness, the Berlin Wall, John F. Kennedy, Sophia Loren, Bob Hope, Bobby Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran.

There will always be critics who wished for coverage of an event that does not appear here or who complain because a favorite writer is excluded. But overall, the selection and organization is provocative and reasonably complete. Anyone who is mesmerized by world affairs and who enjoys effective writing will rush to own this volume.

And it can most properly be read in the same way as the magazine, a few articles at a time as a way to catch up on really important things. Kudos to Time and the numerous talented and devoted people who delivered this marvelous collection to the printers.


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