More on the lure of the shiny yellow metal--and you can bet you haven't heard the last word yet. Vickers, chief of the European bureau of The Wall Street Journal, seems to spend a good bit of time viewing crown jewels and archaeological finds and hobnobbing with South African diamond- and gold-mining magnates. His history of gold runs the gamut: alchemy, El Dorado, Midas, coinage and counterfeiting, jewelry-making and goldsmithing, industrial uses, gold robberies, treasure-hunting and salvaging. If we tell you he exonerates the South African government for apartheid because the""lower-paid white workers. . . are the most militant in trying to 'keep the Bantu in his place'"" and that he regrets that""governments have become like those merry Robin Hoods who used to rob the rich to distribute largess among the poor""--can you guess what his position will be on the gold bugs vs. those ""antigold fanatics""? Right--he's plumping for a return to the gold standard. Our biggest complaint is that we had to wade through all that padding to even reach the predictable preservation-of-property polemic.