This book has a message: the rise in the West of codified law, monotheism, theoretical science, logic, and individualism was fostered by the phonetic alphabet. Unfortunately, the message is not substantiated. Logan shows that literacy has contributed to many ``Western'' innovations, but literacy is not synonymous with alphabetas witness the Chinese, the Japanese, etc. Further, the relation between the alphabet and monotheism is obscure: both the ancient Greeks and the Hindus had an alphabet and many gods. Logan may argue that the phonetic alphabet possesses ``logic,'' but where is the logic in a random list of alphabetized words: aardvark, abacus, acrobat, admirable? Yet many Chinese dictionaries are logical, grouping related words under the appropriate sign. Not recommended. Catherine von Schon, SUNY at Stony Brook Lib.