The Peacocks of Baboquivari, by Erma J. Fisk. Illustrations by Louise Russell. New York: Norton. 284 pp. $7.95. What is a 73-year-old city woman with ``a gimpy hip'' doing in a cabin 75 miles from the nearest city, 4,500 feet above sea level in the Arizona mountains?

For five months in the winter and spring of 1978-79, Erma Fisk was keeping tabs on the bird population for the Nature Conservancy. She was also keeping a journal, writing letters, exploring the Arizona wilderness, and experiencing the fullness of a seemingly isolated life - a great deal of which she has distilled into this unpretentious and refreshing book.

Her story will delight bird watchers and may well be of interest to anyone who's ever wondered what it would be like to get away from it all. The Bookshops of London, by Martha Redding Pease, Third Edition. Topsfield, Mass.: Salem House. 399 pp. $9.95.

This is the latest edition of a comprehensive, easy-to-use guide to the hundreds of bookstores - new and secondhand, specialist and antiquarian - that have long made London a mecca for book-lovers.

Arranged by region, it is wonderful for the bibliophile wandering the city streets, who will instantly be able to find the address, phone number, and business hours of a given store - along with a good description of each store's inventory. It is also indexed for convenient cross-reference, by specialty and by name.

Nor need you visit London to find this book useful: The next Helene Hanff may perhaps find her (or his) own ``84 Charing Cross Road'' in these pages. They're a good source for those who enjoy shopping by mail. The Penguin Book of Lieder, edited and translated by S.S. Prawer, New York: Viking Penguin. 201 pp. $6.95.

Ever wonder exactly what Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and others are singing about when they sing German lieder?

Often, they are singing not only the music of such great composers as Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Schumann, or Brahms, but also the words of such poets as Goethe, Lessing, Schiller, Heine, Tieck, or M"orike.

Arranged by composer, the lyrics in this very handy reference book appear side by side with English translations. These aren't always quite as accurate as one could wish, but they fairly convey a sense of the originals.

There are good headnotes about all of the composers and, at the back, brief but informative notes about the poets. Even if you never listen to lieder, this book still can serve as an excellent collection of German lyric poetry. Code Name ``Mary'': Memoirs of an American Woman in the Austrian Underground, by Muriel Gardiner. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. 179 pp. Illustrated. $7.95.

In her foreword to this book, Sigmund Freud's daughter and fellow-psychoanalyst Anna Freud points out two lessons: ``That it is possible even for lone individuals to pit their strength successfully against ... an unjust regime,'' and ``that for every gang of evil-doers ... there is always at least one `just' man or woman ready to help, rescue, and sacrifice his or her own good for fellow-beings.''

Muriel Gardiner was indeed such a person. As a young American studying medicine and psychoanalysis in Vienna, she risked her own safety to work in the anti-Nazi underground, helping Jews, socialists, and others escape imprisonment and death.

Stories about Gardiner, code-named ``Mary,'' apparently furnished Lillian Hellman with material for her semi-fictional creation, ``Julia.''

Gardiner, who went on to become a distinguished psychoanalyst and educator (unlike ``Julia,'' who died), lacks Hellman's gifts as a storyteller and prose stylist - but her account has the invaluable advantage of being true. Islam: From the Prophet Muhammad to the Capture of Constantinople, edited and translated by Bernard Lewis. Volume I: Politics and War. 266 pp. $9.95. Volume II: Religion and Society. 310 pp. $10.95. New York: Oxford University Press.

In this two-volume documentary history, Bernard Lewis has collected and translated a wide assortment of texts from the Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and (in two cases) Hebrew. They're all taken from the period of Islam's great expansion.

Ranging over five centuries and a territory extending from Persia to Spain, these texts represent a variety of perspectives on such topics as scripture, law, worship, heresy, rebellion, statecraft, warfare, race, slavery, trade, travel, and poetry. There are even selections from a pair of medieval joke books: one Arabic, one Persian.

Lewis, a preeminent scholar in the field of Middle Eastern studies, is an illuminating, authoritative guide. This collection supplies a vital part of world history long lacking in Western scholarship on this period. Heroes and Hustlers, Hard Hats and Holy Men: Inside the New Israel, by Ze'ev Chafets. New York: Quill/William Morrow. 249 pp. $7.95

This candid, sharp, often humorous portrait of Israel in the 1980s is the kind of in-depth cultural immersion few visitors have the time or energy to experience on their own.

Crammed with anecdotes, insights, and colorful characters from prostitutes to politicians, this immensely readable book concentrates on the particulars of day-to-day life. Yet it resonates with the larger questions - political, economic, religious, and cultural - that confront the nation as a whole.

The American-born Chafets, who emigrated to Israel 20 years ago, is a concerned, yet open-minded, observer with a natural and engaging style that makes this book a pleasure to read.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today