A quick-flip shuffle of off-mike-and-camera milestones and bloopers in the five decades of CBS history--from 1928 when Philadelphian William Paley, cigar company heir, bought a ""frail"" network of 16 stations, to the present. Told mainly through profiles and anecdotes, the chronology mixes personalities and crises. Paley, still in his twenties, made some portentous (and usually lightning) decisions -- the link with the West Coast, an innovative and attractive affiliate contract, and while pacing a ship's deck and hearing a record played and replayed, it was Paley who wired: ""Heard vocalist called Bing Crosby. Please sign."" There are rough-cut tributes to such figures as Ed Klauber, a news purist who ruled out sponsor influence, promoter Paul Kesten, dogged Frank Stanton, etc. On to accounts of early wars with the press (some papers refused program listings); wild promos; the heyday of the soaps. Other sections deal with the war years (including excerpts from some of Ed Murrow's rooftop reports during British bombings) and the great news teams; Murrow/McCarthy set-to's and other pressures; talent raids, and in the home stretch the censorship problems over the Smothers Brothers and Joseph Papp. Also included is a jumble of short takes on intramural feuds and confrontations, deals and tensions in the front offices, recent CBS acquisitions, and even a tour of the austere Saarinen building on West 51st Street. A popular, mainly executive suite overview with nostalgia appeal provided by the photo insets--but it's really too little about too much.