David Sacks
October 09, 1992 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Hip and opinionated, this book gives thumbnail sketches of the thousand or so people who supposedly shaped the late 20th century. Listing them alphabetically, Icons: An A-Z Guide to the People Who Shaped Our Time embraces presidents, rock stars, scientists, poets, and revolutionaries — many of them still living. The mix is impressive: Not every Who’s Who would follow Marilyn Monroe with Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Compiled by a British author and research team, Icons has a few factual errors and too much smug Oxbridge political correctness, but the book’s strength is the way it illuminates — with brief explanations — the work of such otherwise- daunting figures as psychologist B.F. Skinner and philosopher Michel Foucault. And Icons isn’t afraid to trash phonies (Jeff Koons and Malcom Forbes, among others). B

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