Queen bee of the it's-not-really-all-in-fun division of barbed humor, King (Lump It or Leave It, 1990, etc.) restrains her vaunted bawdiness a little here and presents an impassioned survey of the general condition of aversion to the whole of humanity. Forget about making nice, says the author. As cleverly irritable and cheerfully disrespectful as ever, King eschews descriptions of such easy paragons of political incorrectness as H.L. Mencken or W.C. Fields to make her point. She does, however, trace the proud history of misanthropy with unmanicured thumbnail sketches of several other leading exponents, drawn from real life and from fiction. Dian Fossey, Ty Cobb, and Coriolanus, with their famed contumely; G. Gordon Liddy and Louis-Ferdinand CÃ‰line, led by their demented different drummers; Rousseau and Bierce and the heroines of long-forgotten potboilers--all are trotted out, snarling. The ""real"" Richard Nixon is finally identified as Alceste, MoliÃ¨re's misanthrope in the dewlapped flesh. And don't forget Timon of Athens or Irving Berlin of Broadway, meanies both. Not one to shortchange the customers, King offers a nice assortment of one-liners. On dying alone: ""I'd rather rot on my own floor than be found by a bunch of bingo players in a nursing home."" A closet misanthrope's fantasy (which she predicts will catch on): ""involuntary euthanasia."" Is a misanthrope a natural-born grouch, simply a realist, or just a curmudgeon with a short fuse? Gadfly King never quite decides. While working it all out, though, she whacks organized feminists, affirmative activists, goody-goodies, and everybody else with impartial ferocity. Following Groucho, who intoned the noble anthem of misanthropy so long ago, whatever it is, she's against it. She's got a point.