A political biography that fits uneasily with the typical entry in the preelection genre, partly because it comes from academe, whence Harrell (History/Alabama) hails, and partly because the author manages to refrain from outright adulation. Harrell (Oral Roberts: An American Life; A Social History of the Disciples of Christ, etc.) approaches his subject from three views: personal (showing Robertson, son of a respected Virginia Senator, who was a bit of a rebel, taking his young wife to live in the slums of New York until, near 30, he ""discovered"" Jesus and the possibilities of television); religious (detailing not only Robertson's stance as a charismatic, evangelical Southern Baptist, but offering one of the best short sociological portraits one is likely to find of these three groups' progress on the American scene, along with a similarly effective look at the ""electronic Church,"" and Robertson's unquestioned status as leader emeritus of that ""Church""); and political (outlining Robertson's political leanings--conservative but socially conscious--his foreign policy, which is hawkish, yet highly critical of the outlandish spending practices of the defense industry, providing a link with his ""somewhat populist economic views""). The major question that faces Robertson supporters and political analysts, Harrell writes, is whether ""a Christian, a minister, a charismatic [can] be elected President of the United States."" (James Garfield, it is often forgotten, had been a minister. But the tele-religion of the 1980's is somewhat far removed from 1880.) Robertson, as the author states, has a resigned outlook--""If the Lord wants me, He wants me like I am and not somebody different. And so He will have to make the people want somebody like me."" With a little help from a strong politico-marketing orientation, Robertson has already surprised some with strong early showings in Iowa polls. A skillful work, above average for its type, but most likely headed for the same fate as its subject's candidacy.