Critics Voices: Apr. 2, 1990

BOOKS

MEANS OF ASCENT by Robert A. Caro (Knopf; $24.95). This second volume of an extended biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson offers a hair-raising, white- knuckle ride through the 1940s, when its hero-villain clawed, scrambled and cheated his way toward the political mountaintop.

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF JUDAISM edited by Geoffrey Wigoder (Macmillan; $75). The publisher of 1987's indispensable 16-volume Encyclopedia of Religion is back with this succinct one-volume compendium of Jewish topics, from Abortion to Zion. Virtues: clarity for nonspecialists and balance between modern concepts and respect for tradition.

THE BOY SCOUT HANDBOOK (Boy Scouts of America; $4.95). "Be Prepared" takes...

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