Originally created 05/02/04

Coffee-table titles led by big book about a big boat



A big new book about a big new boat has dropped anchor in bookstores.

"Queen Mary 2: The Greatest Ocean Liner of Our Time" (Bulfinch, $50) salutes the Cunard Line's new flagship in a lavish volume created in conjunction with Cunard.

The ship, nicknamed QM2, arrived in New York April 22 on its first trans-Atlantic voyage.

The book says that the QM2 cost $800 million to build, measures four city blocks long and accommodates the population of a small town - 2,600 passengers. Facilities include a ballroom, movie theater, spa and 10 dining rooms, one of which seats 1,300 diners.

Text by John Maxtone-Graham offers a history of ocean liners and compares the QM2 to its predecessors, including the original Queen Mary, launched in 1936.

More than 200 color images, including photos by Harvey Lloyd, illustrate the evolution of ocean liners and display the QM2's splendor. Among them are a four-page spread showing a cutaway of the ship's interior and floor plans of its 13 decks.

Photos follow the ship's construction, from its keel-laying to its christening in Southampton, England, in January by Queen Elizabeth II - the person, not the ship - who pushed a button that mechanically smashed a 3-liter bottle of champagne against the ship's hull.

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Another classy way to travel is by Cadillac. And a classy way to review the automaker's long and distinguished history is through the pages of "Cadillac: 100 Years of Innovation" (Krause Publications, $29.99) by Angelo van Bogart.

For decades, Cadillac was the epitome of the luxury car, a status symbol driven by physicians, lawyers, professional athletes and movie stars. Cadillac revolutionized styling in the late 1940s with the tail fin, which it took to dramatic extremes in subsequent years.

But the car was more than just a pretty (and expensive) face. Cadillac, the book says, was the first manufacturer to use interchangeable parts, and the first to make a practical self-starting ignition and practical V-8 engine.

The Cadillac story begins in 1902, when the company was founded by Henry Leland, and moves up to the present day, stopping along the way at such milestones as the company's sale to General Motors in 1909, the production of the 1 millionth Cadillac in 1949, and the 1999 debut of the Escalade, Cadillac's hat in the SUV ring.

The text discusses styling changes, mechanical improvements, production methods, company management and sales history. Illustrating all this are 260 photos, many in color and many previously unpublished.

One photo shows a line of 1946 models in the factory as they pass under heat lamps to dry their paint. A contrast of Cadillacs is shown in photos of "The Duchess," a 1941 four-door sedan custom-built for the Duke of Windsor, and "Le Monstre," an unsightly 1950s competition car built on a Cadillac chassis.

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Twice as good as traveling on four wheels is traveling on eight wheels, any roller skater will tell you.

"Skate Crazy: Amazing Graphics From the Golden Age of Roller Skating" (Running Press, $16.95 paperback) offers a history of skates and skating, concentrating on the period of 1937-1959, when roller rinks - more than 3,000 of them nationwide - were common in just about every American town and city.

Owners promoted their rinks by giving patrons souvenir stickers to display on their skate cases. The stickers became items for collecting and trading.

Lou Brooks illustrates his busy and colorful book with images of rink memorabilia - matchbook covers, ads, postcards and photos - as well as more than 400 souvenir stickers from his collection. Most stickers show the rink's interior or exterior, skates with wings, or pictures of skaters having a grand old time. Other show animals; the Turks Rollerdome sticker has a skating turkey complete with top hat.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur appears on a sticker from a rink in Little Rock, Ark., his birthplace, while a space alien - at least the concept of one 50 years ago - adorns the sticker for the New Planet rink in Chicago.

And it may sound corny, but guess what common vegetable is seen upon a roller skate on a sticker from an Iowa rink?

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More nostalgia can be found in "Candy: The Sweet History" (Collectors Press, $35), Beth Kimmerle's generously illustrated and drool-inducing chronicle of the history of sweet treats, which dates to ancient cultures of Egypt and China.

The text focuses on 85 candies, including some of the most popular and enduring brands as well as some obscure and vanished ones - 'Tween Meals, Seven Up, Nickel Naks and Chicken Dinner, which contained no chicken but, some say, was "the best candy bar in history."

Illustrations include candy ads and wrappers, and photos of factories, workers, shops and displays.

An illustrated candy timeline begins in 1868 when Richard Cadbury made the first heart-shaped box of candy for Valentine's Day. Other important milestones include 1900, the debut of the Hershey bar; 1912, when Life Savers were first rolled out; and 1917 and the first Baby Ruth, named for - no, not the baseball player -- President Grover Cleveland's daughter.

Readers see that the Mounds wrapper looked much different when it was introduced in 1923, and learn that "Melt in your mouth, not in your hands" M&M's were introduced in 1940 to help offset decreasing chocolate sales in hot weather.