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It took approximately twelve years for the message of kinesics, as formulated by Ray Birdwhistell, Erring Goffman, Edward T. Hall and others, to be translated into Julius Fast's popular Body Language. Now, four years later, body language is being taught to children and -- in this particular case -- the lesson is strikingly similar to Fast in format and content. But though McGough does tend to reuse his work, her book is not necessarily inferior; in covering the same ground, she uses more pointed examples of meaningful gestures and expressions, frequently cites her sources and the relevant research, and avoids Fast's tendency to overgeneralize in rambling cocktail party case studies. One could wish that McGough had more clearly explained that gestures particular to men or women are a matter of culture and custom, and her characterization of nationalities is sometimes hasty. (It is stated that ""a nurse cares for a baby in England. Then a governess takes over at an early age"" -- thus lumping all English toddlers into a very small privileged class.) Otherwise this is a stimulating glossary of common eye language, facial expressions and postures combined with a responsible discussion of the human need for touching and the societal taboos that regulate its expression. And of course kinesics -- as a set of clues to interpreting social situations and revealing one's self image -- has a built in appeal to the older chil-dred and early teens who, consciously or otherwise, are among its most expressive practitioners.

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 1974
Page count: 129pp
Publisher: Morrow