Another corporate autobiography? Hardly. In Swimming Across, Intel’s Andrew S. Grove delivers a story of his remarkable life — pre-Intel — that reads like a good novel.


In 1956, Andras Istvan Grof arrived in this country at 20, a refugee from Communism with $20 in his pocket, the mud-caked old clothes on his back, a quick intelligence, a desire to succeed, and a willingness to work.

Now as Andrew S. Grove, he is chairman of chipmaker Intel, one of the most powerful companies in the new information age, and a former Time magazine “Man of the Year.”

Unlike all too many corporate autobiographies, Swimming Across (Warner Books, $26.95) really is written by the subject, Grove himself, and is a heck of a story. A Jew and a fugitive from Hitler’s SS, Grove hid out during World War II, returned to enjoy a brief career as a student journalist under the Soviets, participated in the short-lived Hungarian revolution, and made his exit. His account of his escape reads like a spy novel. Just the sort of immigrant America takes to its heart.

- Bill Marvel


The Sigma Protocol, By Robert Ludlum, St. Martin's Press, $27.95
Robert Ludlum, who died in March at age 73, left the world 23 consecutive best-selling thrillers, and, with the posthumous publication of this book, no doubt a 24th.

It has all those Ludlum trademarks: a convoluted plot propelled by bloodshed, betrayals, globe-spanning conspiracies and counterconspiracies, and characters who can pluck a piece of relevant information out of some archive faster than a traffic cop pulling a ticket book out of his pocket.

How did he do it? Just keeping track of the corpses and conspiracies as they pile up requires a monkish concentration. But as always, the pages keep turning. This one — not that the others are all that different — has Nazis, bizarre medical experiments, secret government agencies, and a hero and heroine who are in way over their heads.

It all gets sorted out in, say, about 800 pages or three or four days’ reading time, which is what Ludlum’s fans love. Are there more manuscripts where this came from, bestsellers number 25 or 26? Could be. For now, the publisher is keeping his secrets. 


Puzzled To Death, By Parnell Hall, Bantam, $23.95
Some 40 million people do crossword puzzles. It may be a harmless diversion or, perhaps, as some have suggested, excellent exercise for the mind and a way of keeping those short-term memory muscles exercised.

The mystery is the third in a series that we suspect will just keep getting bigger. Not only is the device a natural — clues to the puzzle are also clues to the crime — but Cora Felton, syndicated crossword puzzle columnist, is an appealing character who likes a drink and her comforts, does not suffer fools, and is quick as a cobra with her wit.

Her latest adventure finds her in a sleepy Connecticut town that is hosting a puzzle competition. But, Cora is loathe to go, not the least because she may be unmasked: Her conventional (not to say dull) niece, Sherry, is actually the brains behind the puzzles and Cora is merely the front lady. When one of the celebrity contestants is murdered, things just get worse. And when the killer begins planting clues to his/her identity in the form of puzzle clues, things become genuinely interesting.

— Geoffrey Norman


How Can We Keep From Singing, By Joan Oliver Goldsmith, W. W. Norton & Company, $22.95
More than 20 million Americans sing in choirs, choral societies, or barbershop quartets. Heaven knows how many more sing in the shower, behind the wheels of our cars, or when we happen to find our- selves alone, in need of uplift or a calming voice.

Voice, the “invisible instrument,” reminds us that we are vibrating, breathing beings, the author writes. This is more than a book about the joy of music-making. It is a book about those who lead the music and those who follow, full of shrewd observations on creativity, friendship, and love. A book, in other words, about life.