Ireland: A Social and Cultural History, 1922 to the Present, by Terence Brown. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press. 302 pp. $12.95. This cleareyed, well-written study surveys the distance between the promise of a free Irish state and the uneven realities of the nation's history. Brown, a fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, soberly examines problems of chauvinism, censorship, and insularity. He finds a country whose foreign policy was too often governed solely by the aim of opposing Britain; whose cultural policies were too often limited by a laudable but unrealistic commitment to Gaelic language revival; and whose social policies -- more than those of most other Roman Catholic countries -- were directly influenced by the church. But Brown also spotlights the continuing efforts of writers, teachers, librarians, and others to broaden the cultural base and the impressive record of Ireland's civil service in identifying and alleviating social problems. This new American edition of a book first published in England in 1981 includes a valuable postscript covering the years up to 1984. The Apartheid Handbook: A Guide to South Africa's Everyday Racial Policies, by Roger Omond. New York: Penguin. 231 pp. $4.95.
What is it like to live under a system of legally institutionalized racial discrimination? More specifically, what are the restrictions that govern the lives of South Africa's nonwhite population -- and what are some of the effects of this system on South African whites? Employing a simple, clear, question-and-answer format, this just-published handbook by a South African-born journalist now living in London covers a wide variety of topics, from health, education, and sports to employment, trade unions, and police procedures. It provides accurate, direct, specific answers to many specific questions and helpfully explains the actual mechanisms behind such phrases as ``homelands,'' ``pass laws,'' ``banning,'' and ``group areas.'' A useful sourcebook. Genocide: Its Political Use in the Twentieth Century, by Leo Kuper. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. 255 pp. $8.95.
This comprehensive study of modern genocide by a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California at Los Angeles combines extensive research with thorough analysis of almost every conceivable aspect of a crime denounced by the 1948 UN Genocide Convention as an ``odious scourge'' against mankind. Kuper's comparative approach covers a wide range of genocides -- against ``primitive'' peoples, against religious, racial, and ethnic minorities, against classes and political groups. The reader is led through a labyrinth of horror by a reliable guide, who is capable of making careful distinctions between mass violence and systematic extermination, who is disinclined to leap to conclusions, but who is acutely aware of the appalling frequency of genocide and the prevalence of politically motivated attempts to deny its existence. Kuper's studies have led him to the sad conclusion that the UN is, for all practical purposes, more committed to defending the rights of sovereign states than to defending the lives of people -- indeed, entire peoples -- threatened by their own governments. His subsequent exploration of what can be done about this nightmarish scourge is the subject of his newly published hard-cover study, ``The Prevention of Genocide'' (Yale University Press, $22.). Fiction and Essays by Cynthia Ozick. New York: E. P. Dutton. (Information on individual volumes below).
All of Cynthia Ozick's books are now available in paperback editions in Dutton's ``Obelisk'' series, which features an intriguing range of fiction and nonfiction writing by authors as diverse as Nancy Mitford, Brian Moore, A. B. Yehoshua, and Anita Brookner. Ozick, an accomplished artist who often expresses serious doubts about the dangers of purely aesthetic (as opposed to moral) experience, can be fascinating, stimulating, sometimes even infuriating, but her writing is always filled with energy and ideas. The Obelisk series includes her first novel, ``Trust'' (639 pp., $11.95); three volumes of her shorter fiction: ``Bloodshed'' (178 pp., $6.95), ``The Pagan Rabbi'' (270 pp., $6.95); and ``Levitation'' (158 pp. $4.95); her controversial essays, ``Art and Ardor'' (305 pp., $8.95); and her most recent, and thus far most impressive, novel, ``The Cannibal Galaxy'' (162 pp., $6.95), a remarkably rich, finely wrought book that seems to transcend some the dualisms that dominate her earlier work. Vico, by Peter Burke. New York: Oxford University Press. 101 pp. $3.95. Mill, by William Thomas. Oxford. 134 pp. $3.95.
These two recent additions to the Oxford ``Past Masters'' series are concise, yet -- within the limits of their format -- comprehensive guides. Each succeeds at functioning on two levels, providing a sound introduction for readers new to the subject, while offering a fresh perspective to those already familiar with it. In the case of John Stuart Mill (1806-73), famous for the change of heart that made him realize the deficiencies of the rationalism preached by his father (James Mill), Mr. Thomas has chosen to emphasize the continuities between father and son that were not, as he argues, substantially altered by the younger Mill's newfound regard for the importance of emotion and imagination. In the case of Giambattista Vico (1668-1744), in whom later generations have continued to discover a kindred spirit (Michelet, Arnold, and Marx in the 19th century; Croce, Cassirer, Auerbach, and Joyce in the 20th), Mr. Burke helps reorient our notion of Vico by viewing this innovative thinker in the context of his own time and place, 18th-century Naples.