There are over two hundred Goldberg illustrations, and an appendix which lists his cartoon series from 1904-1938, so if Goldberg grabs ya there's plenty to pass around to friends. Rube Gold-berg appears in the Random House dictionary as an adjective (""having a fantastically complicated, improvised appearance"") but Goldberg, in his salad days as cartoonist for New York papers of the '20's and early '30's, was something of an improper noun. The author gives an earnest accounting of a Goldberg party in Manhattan which must have been a lalapalooza involving the ton, from Jimmy Walker on down (or up); and there's Rube the night before his wedding whisked off to the poky for repeatedly intoning ""John Charles Thomas ha ha ha ha"" during the somber baritone's performance. Rube was born in San Francisco, son of Max the gambler/entrepreneur/minor politico, and his rise to the drawing board was fairly rapid and lucrative. But Goldberg hit his stride with the inventions, a string of cartoons commenting on contemporary foibles, Boob McNutt, Lala, etc. There were books, a stab at the movies, and political cartoons, but Rube's style soon became dated and he never quite recouped. Marzio, who is a resident historian at the Smithsonian, casts a pall early on by his insistently treating Rube like Rubens; and that air of careful reverence with which others have drained the humor out of cinema comedians of the silents, squashes the life from Rube. As the Master has said: ""No matter how thin you slice it. . . ."" But it was great baloney.