De Gaulle reputedly said ""How can you be expected to govern a country that has 246 kinds of cheese?"" Well this book, without exploring any of the political curds, has managed to assemble a tremendous amount of information about their heritage (older than Miss Muffet), variability (cheeses are like wine and change from region to region) and species from country to country. The cheeses are then categorically grouped and described, fresh cheeses, bland and butter Cheddars, Camemberts and Bries, blue-veined, goat and sheep, on to the more redolent exemplars. A section on serving, on the appropriate wines, and a few recipes at the close.... Well, to borrow further from an unidentified source in which we've been browsing because we didn't have anything to nibble on, Fadiman said cheese is ""milk's leap toward immortality."" Certainly it's halfway to heaven here.... Should be a nice gift book.