January 18, 1982 12:00 PM

edited by Peter Chaitin

And then there’s this sweeping view of Americana. Imagine James Michener is your uncle. He has traveled all over the U.S. and wants to tell you about it. So he drags out hundreds of stock Chamber of Commerce pictures, plus a few with him standing in front of buildings. Of New York, he relates, “As the song says, ‘It’s a helluva town.’ ” In Chicago, he asks columnist Irv Kupcinet: “Tell me, Kup, how does it feel to be ‘Mister Chicago’?” Reaching the Pacific, he notes, “Millions have thronged westward to California over the years to settle in the far-flung reaches of the city of Los Angeles.” This wouldn’t make much of an avuncular travelogue but is in fact a companion to a TV series Michener has packaged and not yet sold. On the bright side, the book, at 342 pages, is much shorter than most Michener epics. (Crown, $25)

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