February 21, 1994 12:00 PM

By Richard Zacks

Across between a history book and the Mesopotamian Enquirer, this amusing compilation is subtitled “Love, Sex and Perversity from the Ancient Etruscans to Warren G. Harding.” It touches on such topics as Joan of Arc’s virginity tests, Puritan bestiality and Ben Franklin’s delight in older women, as well as such miscellaneous perversions as Nero’s sadism, King James’s homosexuality and New York colonial governor Lord Cornbury’s cross-dressing.

An ideal book for browsing, History Laid Bare suggests an idle game: supposing which ancient pervert would go on which daytime talk show. Lord Cornbury, of course, goes to Donahue. (HarperCollins, $20)

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