Books: The Commercials

SPEAK TO THE EARTH (310 pp.)—Max Miller—Applelon-Century-Crofts ($3.75).

In 1932, I Cover the Waterfront established Max Miller in the hearts of large numbers of his fellow citizens as a master of homespun whimsy and matey human-interest stories. Since then, none of his frequent Ernie Pyle-like reports on life's small, hushed heartthrobs has come near matching the simplicity and charm of his first bestseller. Speak to the Earth, his 24th book, is a breezy survey of the country's petroleum industry in his most relentlessly cheerful, small-talk style.

Steering clear of laboratory lingo and anything that...

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