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PAPERBACK RELEASE PROFILES VANDERBILTS; STORIES IN ANOTHER OFFER INSIDE LOOK AT D.C.

SHARE PAPERBACK RELEASE PROFILES VANDERBILTS; STORIES IN ANOTHER OFFER INSIDE LOOK AT D.C.

Here are capsule reviews of two new releases in paperback:

THE VANDERBILT ERA: PROFILES OF A GILDED ERA; by Louis Auchincloss; Collier; $8.95, illustrated.This informal history continues turn-of-the-century New York society feuds into the fourth generation. Louis Auchincloss details the activities of minor Vanderbilt scions but gives short shrift to their social rivals, including J.P. Morgan, Mamie Fish, Jay Gould and Caroline Astor (the Mrs. Astor). Andrew Carnegie, Hettie Green, August Belmont and "Diamond Jim" Brady are conspicuously absent. Auchincloss writes with a rare, old-fashioned elegance, but his descriptions of the gilt-edged follies of the '90s lack the anecdotal flair of Lucius Beebe's "The Big Spenders." The problem may be that he is too close to his subject: The descendant of an old New York family, Auchincloss offers a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of the old rich and famous - after the servants have tidied up.

THE CONGRESSMAN WHO LOVED FLAUBERT; by Ward Just; Caroll & Graf; $9.95.

A former newspaper reporter, Ward Just writes with a crisp, straightforward style and an insider's knowledge of Washington, D.C., that gives these stories the tone of a roman a clef. In "Prime Evening Time," a dedicated soldier finds that the distorted visions on network news shows are more powerful than truth; a senator learns the bitter lesson that style can be more significant than content in "Noone." The title story, in which a rising young congressman loses his last illusions as he watches a friend cleverly orchestrate a campaign for the Senate, gives the reader a clearer picture of how the federal government actually functions than many civics texts. - Charles Solomon (For the Los Angeles Times)