Books: The Quickie Phenomenon

Written in captivity, printed in a hurry

"All books are divisible into two classes," noted John Ruskin in 1865, "the books of the hour, and the books of all time." He would have been surprised to find his declaration taken literally. Only eleven days after the ghastly events in Guyana had been disclosed to the world, two paperbacks with $2.50 price tags hit the stands: Bantam's The Suicide Cult and Berkley's Guyana Massacre. Produced by teams of journalists, the "instant" books, as they are known in the trade, feature photographs, background chapters on the...

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