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The return of the Monkey Wrench Gang

HAYDUKE LIVES!, by Edward Abbey, Little, Brown, $18.95. Shortly before his death in March of a circulatory ailment, Edward Abbey completed this sequel to his 1975 novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang, about a band of eco-warriors ("Only outlaws can save wilderness" is one of their slogans) opposed to bulldozing, old-forest logging, nuclear power, cattle grazing on public lands, circumcision and other spoliations of the natural life. The Monkey Wrench Gang ends with the gang leader, George Washington Hayduke, hanging from a cliff and believed dead and the other members busted and lying low. Now, as the title indicates, Hayduke Lives!, and the gang is back in operation to battle the worst menace of all, GOLIATH, the world's largest dragline bucket.

The book is in the tradition of advocacy fiction, and it's useless to evaluate it on literary merit or on its own strengths and weaknesses of plotting and characterization. If you believe in the type of ecological activism that the book describes, you'll revel in seeing bad guys like Jasper B. Bundy, "six foot four and a room temp IQ of 78," meet their comeuppance.

You don't have to have read The Monkey Wrench Gang to follow Hayduke Lives! but if you haven't read anything by Abbey before this, you might do better to try The Fool's Progress, probably his best-known and most successful novel, or some of his more conventional non-fiction, such as Desert Solitaire, first published in 1968. Desert Solitaire, a beautifully written and moving account of Abbey's experiences as a park ranger in Utah, is being re-released in paperback by Touchstone Books ($9.95, with drawings by Peter Parnall).

_ David Walton

ACT OF RAGE, by Joseph Hayes, St. Martin's Press, $18.95.

Carole Jensen is brutally raped at the beginning of this suspenseful thriller and later goes to a psychologist in an effort to make sense of the chaos her life has become. Dr. Judith Kahn explains to her: "Rape is always an act of rage. It's a crime of hate, aggression, seething fury that erupts into violence. What a rapist wants is to debase, degrade, subjugate _ put a woman under his power. He has a sick, terrible need for absolute mastery. His victim is often only a symbol for all the things or people in the world who have hurt him. Or who he imagines have hurt him."

Sarasota author Hayes' novel is a vindication and explanation of this theory. It traces Carole Jensen's ordeal in painful detail, largely from her point of view, with sympathy and understanding, through her discovery of the identity of her assailant and her decisive, ultimately fulfilling act of revenge. She discovers more than she really wants to know about herself and the people who inhabit her life _ her husband, his and her friends, their wives and husbands, and a few others _ and concludes that her life has been a lie. In the end she is at a crossroads, her future uncertain.

Hayes' terse and suspenseful prose is the kind that made him famous in The Desperate Hours, one of the great suspense stories of the 1950s. The climactic scene in Act of Rage takes place in a theater and rivals any melodrama.

_ Ed Hirshberg

MEMORIES AND ADVENTURES, by Winston S. Churchill, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, $19.95.

Winston S. Churchill, the grandson of Britain's World War II prime minister, was born in 1940. Like his grandfather, Churchill has carved a career as a writer, journalist and member of Parliament.

In this pleasant and unassuming book, the grandson talks of his school days in Switzerland, at Eton and at Oxford; describes an extraordinary 20,000-mile flight around Africa in a single-engine plane; and recounts his adventures as a war correspondent covering Vietnam, the Congo and the Six-Day War. With his father, Randolph, he wrote a well-reviewed account of that war.

Churchill has ambivalent feelings for his father. A reckless gambler unable to control his smoking, his drinking or his temper, Randolph could be an embarrassment _ but also an "enchanting" companion and a loving and fiercely loyal father. Churchill has unadulterated admiration for his mother, Pamela, a charming British socialite. After her divorce from Randolph, Pamela first married Broadway producer Leland Hayward and then, when widowed, her old friend Averell Harriman. Widowed again, she remains a dynamic force in U.S. Democratic politics.

With those family connections, Churchill has always mingled with the famous and powerful. He shares memories of Albert Schweitzer serving crocodile meat for supper, Greta Garbo taking off her underpants at the dinner table because she felt too warm, Ernest Hemingway generously buying a coveted knife for the very young Churchill, Field Marshal Montgomery playing croquet with Sir Winston. Churchill's memoir, lightweight and lighthearted, depicts a man happy with his lot, blissfully married to his childhood sweetheart and with no ax to grind.

_ Pauline Mayer