January 13, 1997 12:00 PM

>VIVA EVITA!

SHE HAS BEEN DEAD FOR 44 YEARS, BUT Eva Peron is hotter than ever. Piggybacking on the hype created by Madonna‘s star turn as the wife of former Argentine president Juan Peron in the $60 million movie Evita, publishers are rushing at least six Evita books into stores:

1. The Making of Evita, by Alan Parker (HarperCollins, $40). Behind-the-scenes pics of costar Antonio Banderas and quips from Madonna and Parker, the movie’s director.

2. In My Own Words, by Eva Peron (New Press, $8.95). An emotional defense of Juan, produced shortly before Eva died from uterine cancer at 33.

3. Evita: First Lady, by John Barnes (Grove, $12). Recycled from 1978, it paints Evita as a shrewd powerbroker.

4. Eva Perón, by Alicia Dujovne Ortiz (St. Martin’s, $25.95). The former radio actress is depicted here as an ambitious man-baiter for whom Juan was a substitute dad.

5. Evita: The Real Life of Eva Perón, by Nicholas Fraser and Marysa Navarro (Norton, $11). Spruced up with a new introduction and epilogue since its 1980 publication, it deconstructs the myth of a scheming Evita by detailing how hubby Juan cunningly used her popularity to run the show.

6. Santa Evita, by Tomas Eloy Martinez (Knopf, $23). A fictionalized account of how the anti-Peron military forces abducted Evita’s corpse and smuggled it out of Argentina. Talk about picking her bones.

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