A brainless survey of the hand's history and use: half Body Language, half pop anthropology. Only a reader starry-eyed about hands could appreciate nearly 300 pages of such loosely organized solemnity on the subject. We learn, for example, that it ""would be unthinkable for an Englishman to do the crotch grab,"" while Desmond Morris is cited as one of the authorities who place the gesture ""most commonly"" in Mexico; we also have the authors' seemingly groundless speculation that the nose-thumbing gesture may have originated as an imitation of the thumb in the mouth--""a way of saying 'you are a baby'."" Then we get the rules of public hand etiquette (""a politician could never pick wax out of his ear during a public debate"") and the hand's uses of power (the top of any hierarchy, such as the pope or Hitler, gets to use smaller gestures; it's the little guy who's forced into a grandiose salute). We're invited to test and score our touching quotient (""over 85--gang busters!""), and regaled with hype about the psychic power of hand healing. As if all that weren't enough, we actually have to sit through a history of the hand in masturbation (""Let us look first to our animal cousins. . .""). Thumbs down.