Books: Cradle to Guillotine

MARIE ANTOINETTE—Katharine Anthony—Knopf ($3).

Biographer Anthony takes no stock in the story that Marie Antoinette, when a hungry mob was clamoring for bread, asked with cruel naivete: "Why don't they eat cake?" Her brief (298-page) biography is a partisan but appealing argument in favor of Marie Antoinette's humanity.

Marie Antoinette had several popular nicknames, all indicative of her unpopularity. The first, ''The Austrian," was founded strictly on fact. Fifteenth and next-to-last child of Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria. Marie Antoinette was condemned by her scheming mother, by the diplomatic system of Europe, to be a political pawn. Married off young to the French...

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