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Robert BarkerFor frontline action and analysis, I prefer John Neff On Investing (Wiley with S.L. Mintz). Neff recalls how he hitchhiked from Toledo to New York in search of his first investment job. He didn't get it, winding up picking stocks for a Cleveland bank. He eventually made his way to the top job at Windsor Fund, where he beat the market in 22 of his 31 years. The book is a thoughtful blend of investment theory and autobiography, in which he recounts big contrarian victories in such stocks as Citicorp and Boeing. The best chapter, ''Elements of Style,'' makes a cogent case for buying stocks with low price-earnings ratios--a technique that, I caution you, seems to have retired along with Neff in 1995.