NONFICTION : INSIDE OSCAR: THE UNOFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE ACADEMY AWARDS by Mason Wiley and Damien Bona (Ballantine: $24.95, illustrated).

If Mason Wiley and Damien Bona had somehow been able to place tape recorders and cameras in the audience and backstage for every Academy Awards presentation from May 19, 1929 to March 25, 1985, it is difficult to imagine their having produced a more informative and readable account of those events than they have with "Inside Oscar."

Not only is every detail painstakingly recorded--the winners, losers, presenters--but also the atmosphere, the aura surrounding each yearly event, the state of the film industry at the time, the emotions surrounding the participants and the hoopla inside and outside the housings of the ceremonies. It is all there, plus the gossip, the jokes, both funny and unfunny, the unreported remarks, both pithy and snide, as well as who wore what and who surprisingly came with or without whom. Wiley and Bona don't miss a bump or a turn in this enjoyable, 850-page toboggan slide down 56 years of Oscar memories.

Its the perfect book for film students, movie buffs, Oscarphiles and Oscarphobes. Take it from one who has weathered a dozen or more of these tribal rites over the years: You will not want to put "Inside Oscar" down, even to rest your arms.

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