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NEW BOOKS: OCTOBER RELEASES

The Best of Times: America in the Clinton Years by Haynes Johnson (Harcourt, $27). "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Charles Dickens' description of 1790s France in "A Tale of Two Cities" also fits 1990s America as seen by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Haynes Johnson in his new book.

In this social history of an American decade, the best of the '90s meets the worst -- Wall Street wealth and media madness, the Internet and impeachment, Spice Girls and O.J. Simpson, biotechnology and butterfly ballots.

No Saints or Angels by Ivan Klima (Grove, $24). Contemporary Prague is the setting for "No Saints or Angels." The Czech writer tells the story of 40-ish Kristyna, a single parent battling the present and the past. The joy from her love for a younger man is clouded by woes: She fears her rebellious teenage daughter is on drugs; her ex-husband has cancer; she has been receiving anonymous death threats; and her widowed mother has sent her the personal papers of her father, a tyrant and Stalinist whom Kristyna cannot forgive.

Fire by Sebastian Junger (Norton, $24.95). The author of "The Perfect Storm" visits dangerous places through 10 nonfiction pieces written during the past decade. He goes out West to report on the smoke jumpers fighting massive forest fighters; trails hikers taken hostage by militant Pakistani separatists in Kashmir; spends a month under fire with resistance fighters opposing the Taliban in Afghanistan; and reports from the war in Kosovo. The book includes material that first appeared in Vanity Fair, National Geographic and other magazines.

-- Associated Press