Books: The Admiral's Legacy

THE OXFORD HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE by Samuel Eliot Morison. 1,150 pages. Oxford. $12.50.

In compiling this 500,000-word chronicle, Historian Morison had the amiable notion of lacing the chapters with the appropriate music of each period. He starts off with an old Navajo war chant and the Salve Regina sung by the Spanish sailors bound for the New World. He ends, so many chants and prayers, hymns and ditties, marches and dirges later, with Camelot.

For all its charm, this Broadway show tune makes an oddly off-key conclusion to a sequence that began...

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