BOOKS / Recommended

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The Independent Culture
United States by Gore Vidal, Deutsch, pounds 25. 114 lively essays by a great hater. Review by Godfrey Hodgson, 16 October.

Marguerite Yourcenar by Josyane Savigneau, Univ. Chicago, pounds 19.95. Striking life of the first woman in the Academie Francaise, Review by Natasha Walter, 30 October.

Pronto by Elmore Leonard, Viking, pounds 14.99. A Miami bookie flees the mafia and tries to hide in Italy, of all places. Review by Giles Smith, 16 October.

Martyr's Day by Michael Kelly, Macmillan, pounds 15.99. Eloquent Gulf War odyssey. Review by Robert Winder, 15 October.