Cannibalism and the Common Law: The Story of the Tragic Last Voyage of the 'Mignonette' and the Strange Legal Proceedings to Which It Gave Rise, by A.W. Brian Simpson (University of Chicago, $12.95). In 1884 the British-registered yacht Mignonette on a voyage to Australia foundered in a South Atlantic storm. There were four survivors, but only three castaways were rescued. The fourth was murdered and eaten. Back in England, two of the survivors were sentenced to death for murder. This history of the case, part adventure story and part treatise on the intricacies of maritime and criminal law, is simply fascinating.

Classic Advice on Aspects of Organizational Life: Volume 1, Harvard Business Review on Management (Perennial, $8.95). These essays from the pages of the Harvard BusinessReview -- by some of today's notable management practitioners and theorists, including Peter Drucker, Harry Levinson and Chris Argyris -- cover all aspects of the subject for executives in business, industry and government.

How to Visit a Museum, by David Finn (Abrams, $9.95). Both the novice and more experienced museumgoer will find this eclectic and friendly guide an informative companion. Finn tells us what to look for where and when, the inherent values in both shared and solitary visits, and the potential for experiencing the museum itself as a work of art. His text, peppered with personal reminiscences, and sometimes quite unexpected opinions -- "'I don't know much about art, but I know what I like' is not as dumb as some people think"; "there is nothing wrong with breezing through the exhibition to see if anything catches your eye or heart" -- is generously illustrated with 66 photographic reproductions (nearly half in color) of various works of art from a wide range of periods. "Museums," he concludes, "are there for you." His book helps us believe that.

Plain Tales From the Raj, edited by Charles Allen (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, $13.95). Those who've been bitten by the Raj bug via Jewel in the Crown and Passage to India, will find much to delight them in this heavily illustrated reminiscence of life in the Indian Empire. Ayahs (nannies), the club, tiffin under the shamiania (tent), the king-emperor's New Year's Day Parade, all the customs and trivia of an Englishman's life in the colonies are covered in the words of those who lived it. Editor Charles Allen has woven his own intelligent text through the first-hand accounts to make an instructive and entertaining whole.

White Waters and Black, by Gordon MacCreagh (University of Chicago, $11.95). In his foreword to this reprint of a book originally published in 1926, the great zoologist George Schaller says that he loaned his copy out so many times he's forgotten who ultimately failed to return it. It is the highly unofficial account of an Amazon expedition that might have been staffed by the Marx Brothers, but in fact they were eminent scientists. The book contains more pratfalls out of boats than any movie director would allow to be filmed -- plus caymans, naked Indians, and insects in fecund abundance. Some of MacCreagh's humor verges on the sophomoric, but much of it is belly- shakingly funny.

Inquisition and Society in Spain: In the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, by Henry Kamen (Indiana University Press, $10.95). This new edition of a book first published in 1965 portrays the notorious institution that, in the process of attempting to root out heresy, presaged many tactics of the modern police state. Kamen emphasizes the foreignness of the Inquisition when it was first established in Spain: it had to counteract the longstanding Castilian tradition of tolerance for the realm's two great minority religions, Islam and Judaism. How a society whose ruler in the mid-13th century could boast of himself as "king of the three religions" succumbed to religious bigotry and scapegoat-seeking in the 16th is the subject of Kamen's inquiry.

An Environmental Agenda for the Future, edited by Robert Cahn (Island Press, 1718 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009, $5.95). The product of deliberation by 10 present and former heads of conservation groups, this slim volume sets ecological goals "to the end of the century and beyond." The authors acknowledge some success stories, such as the whooping crane's comeback. Down to about 20 individuals in the late 1940s, the great bird now numbers more than 150 in the wild and captivity -- the result of intense cooperation among U.S. and Canadian biologists. At the same time, there are related failures, such as the neglect of endangered plants and invertebrates. The authors note, "Though the Smithsonian Institution in 1975 identified a comprehensive list of some 3,000 U.S. plant species -- roughly a tenth of the nation's naive flora -- likely to need the protection of the Endangered Species Act, fewer than 100 of them have yet been given that protection." Environmentalists and their opponents alike will find this preview of ecological battles-to-come a useful blueprint for strategy.

The Movie Producer, by Paul N. Lazarus (Barnes & Noble, $7.95). For those who have wondered just what it is that movie producers do, Paul Lazarus offers some answers. In essence, they manage the progress of a movie from the initial concept to the final cutting of film, with special emphasis on finances (i.e., establishing a budget, raising the money and keeping within the specified amount). A central document in this effort is the day-out-of-days schedule "which tells the producer when each actor works during the course of the schedule" and allows Hollywood's most wanted stars to cram several films into a year's work. Put it another way: if you've got Mel Gibson, you want to consume as little of his expensive time as possible.