Celebrity Cartoons of the Rich and Famous , by Jack Ziegler (Warner, $5.95). A balding guy with horn rims, wearing a three-piece suit, leans back at his desk, the Manhattan skyline visible through the window. On his desk a name plate says "Johnny Yuma." He's talking to another plump business exec: "Yes, I was a rebel, and I roamed through the West for a while, but I got sick of that." Another page shows a lone house against the horizon, with a black borzoi dog barking "Knopf, Knopf." The caption goes "The Random House on the prairie under duress from some neighbor's intrusive dog." Before Gary Larson and Berke Breathed there was Ziegler, and he's still as sick and irresistible as ever.
The Leopard , by Giuseppe di Lampedusa (Pantheon, $7.95) Di Lampedusa, a minor Sicilian prince, was born in 1896. His only novel, Il Gattopardo or The Leopard, was based on the life of his great-grandfather, and portrayed the slow and painful demise of the decadent Sicilian aristocracy amid the upheaval of democratic revolution in 1860s Italy. Don Fabrizio, the wealthy, sensual, tempestuous prince who dominates the story, is humbled by the course of political events but remains to the end, along with his charming and eccentric family, an irrepressibly vital figure. Unpublished during its author's lifetime, The Leopard has been recognized since its publication in 1958 as one of the great novels of the century.
The Vanished Imam: Musa al Sadr and the Shia of Lebanon , by Fouad Ajami (Cornell University Press, $8.95). In 1959 an Iranian holy man, Musa al Sadr, emigrated to Lebanon from his native Iran. In the next quarter-century he assumed the religious leadership of the poorest element of Lebanese society, the Muslim Shia. But in 1978 this charismatic imam (or prayer leader) mysteriously disappeared on a trip to Libya -- an event that, whatever else it meant, followed a Shia myth of the "hidden imam" whose followers uphold his legacy and await his return. This fascinating history of the holy man by the distinguished Johns Hopkins scholar bares the soul of a people much overlooked by traditional scholarship and whose political stirrings have revolutionized Middle Eastern politics.
The Harlem Renaissance: A Historical Dictionary for the Era , edited by Bruce Kellner (Methuen, $16.95). This massive (476 pages) reference begins with an introduction that summarizes the beginnings and growth of black Harlem, the urban migration of southern blacks and the careers of James Weldon Johnson, W.E.B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey. The dictionary itself contains entries ranging from 50 to 1,500 words on people (artists, writers, entertainers, politicians and educators); places (the Cotton Club, Karamu House, the Apollo Theatre, Striver's Row); and things (the Associated Negro Press news service, the anthology Fire!, the play Taboo). This is a comprehensive resource that it is not limited to New York; prominent blacks, movements and institutions from around the United States are also included.
The Great Depression , by John A. Garraty (Anchor/Doubleday, $9.95). This is the best contemporary history of what in England was called "the Slump" -- the world-wide depression during the 1930s that saw unemployment and hunger on a scale unparalleled in modern times among the industrialized nations -- at least in times of peace. The author is especially good on the international nature of the crisis and on the prescriptions for recovery offered by economists and politicians.
East Along the Equator: A Journey up the Congo and into Zaire , by Helen Winternitz (Atlantic Monthly, $7.95). Along with her fellow Baltimore Sun reporter, Timothy Phelps, Helen Winternitz took a journey that brought her low with fever, deposited them in towns where no one would give them a ride and culminated in arrest by the security police of Mobutu, the Zairian tyrant. In addition to a marvelous feel for the jungle -- "It was like walking through a crepuscular greenhouse of stupendous proportions" -- the book is astute on the politics of dictatorship and the country's tangled relations with such other nations as Chad and Angola.
Gargoyle , edited by Richard Peabody (Paycock Press, PO Box 30906, Bethesda, MD 20814, $7.95). The 11th anniversary issue of Washington's premier literary magazine pays homage to the Paris Review: Format, layout, contents page, even the interviews recall that other eminent literary magazine. Such playfulness has always characterized Gargoyle, which has successfully managed to be invitingly readable, while emphasizing new (often local) authors, small-press news and neglected 20th-century masters. In this issue the author interviews are especially good: those with Helen Garner, Australian author of The Children's Bach, and Edouard Roditi, the eminent critic, translator and novelist stand out. Rosemary Covey's wood engravings are by turns lyrical, violent and grotesque, as she depicts a childhood scene in South Africa, a riot and men leering at a bikini-clad woman. Helene Bokanowski offers memories of Gertrude Stein, while the fiction includes stories by Mary Truitt and Ann Downer. Poetry ranges from translations (of Anna Akhmatova) to work by James Liddy, Joel Sattler and others. A hefty section of reviews closes out this attractive volume.