George McGovern. Simon & Schuster, $22 (176p) ISBN 0-684-85334-5

A longtime liberal politician and the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate, McGovern makes an impassioned plea for a cause he has worked on long and hard: ending world hunger. He believes this difficult goal is attainable by the year 2030. He traces the history of American involvement in fighting hunger both at home and abroad over the past several decades, not surprisingly nodding approval at programs that he himself backed during the Kennedy and Nixon administrations and criticizing the reduction in antihunger spending under Reagan and Clinton. The most provocative part of his generous manifesto is a five-point program to be spearheaded by the U.S. that includes free school lunches for children around the world; free food, nutrition counseling and health-care services to disadvantaged women and children; the establishment of international food reserves; aid to farmers in developing nations to improve their yields; and the genetic engineering of crops, calling these controversial foods "an indispensable instrument in the war against hunger." McGovern believes in the power of government to solve social ills, and politically conservative readers may find his faith misplaced. Moreover, his uncritical appraisal of the 1960s programs that failed to end poverty is irksome. Nevertheless, in an age marked by extensive cynicism toward government, McGovern not only offers optimism, he also outlines specific initiatives that government can undertake to wipe out world hunger now. (Jan.)

Forecast: McGovern's liberal sentiments may not reflect the beliefs of the nation at large, but there is a solid core of dedicated liberal and progressive believers and activists who will welcome this plan by one of their enduring standard-bearers.