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PEARL S. BUCK: A CULTURAL BIOGRAPHY, by Peter Conn, Cambridge University Press, 468 pages, $29.95.

The extraordinary life of Pearl Sydenstricker Buck, a remarkable writer raised in China by American missionary parents and whose prize-winning books reflected her experiences and observations in that country, is well documented in this recent biography. Conn recalls Buck’s childhood, when Chinese children made fun of her blond hair and blue eyes and called her a “foreign devil”; her 1917 marriage to John Lossing Buck; the birth of their mentally-handicapped daughter, Carol, about whom Buck wrote The Child Who Never Grew; her more than 70 books, including her second novel, The Good Earth, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938; her creation of Welcome House, the first international adoption agency; the establishment of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation that provided medical care and education for Amerasian children in Asian countries; and her active participation in the American civil rights movement.