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THE CHEQUER BOARD (380 pp.)—Nevil Shute—Morrow ($2.75).

As a reserve lieutenant commander in the British Navy in World War II, Novelist Nevil Shute observed that the behavior of U.S. Negro troops was sometimes more orderly than that of white troops. Later he was assigned to a motor gunboat in Burma, where he was impressed with the intelligence and charm of the Burmese people. By the time he sat down to write The Chequer Board, his sympathy for colored peoples had become an explicit insistence on social equality. Says his white hero, slowly dying of his war wounds: "I had been thinking about...

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