Henry Howe may well be a fine country doctor, but he's no poet, and what he has set out to do needs the quality of poetry to lift it out of the commonplace. His narration should beguile, his description lure the reader ever onward to the vista of rustic town or the tang of salt shore. But they don't -- or at least not this reader. There are about Howe's presentation a dryness that does not compare with the dry air of a woodland autumn, a coldness less impersonal than a Gloucester winter. In trying to cover a diverse area -- history, geography, archaeology, population, and the whole gamut-- over three centuries of eventful time, he has sacrificed much of the Bay State's read charm. At this writing, maps and illustrations by John O'Hara Cosgrave II have not been seen, but it is doubtful they can relieve the feeling one gets of plowing up acres and acres of statistics and tedium. Whatever the usefulness of its honest data to academicians, this is overall a lackluster production. Part of a series called ""Regions of America.