This book is an attempt to dig beneath the distorting columns of newsprint and discover who Angela Davis, in all her personal and political complexity, really is."" Whether or not Miss Davis has received unfair national press treatment is very moot, but the more important criticism is that Nadelson, a high school classmate of Davis', fails to go much beyond the cliches she promises to ""knock out."" There is a clear enough run-through of the biographical givens -- Angela growing up shy in ""Bombingham"" (Alabama), her early revulsion at the thought of her white slave-mongering grandfather, the move to New York City and the West Village rapping, Brandeis and the Marcusean flashpoint, study in Paris where she read the Existentialists and Robbe-Grillet and became ""disorganized,"" then Germany and ""weeding out"" via a ""period of psychoanalytic therapy,"" back to Marcuse and a professorship at UCLA (""a watershed for Angela""), the plunge into activist-radicalism solemnized by the CP membership, her subsequent firing by the Board of Regents, hello George Jackson (""probably the most important meeting in her life""), the San Rafael shoot-out, the culminating trial. Nadelson's protective sympathy -- more accurately, a hounding commiseration -- might be fetching to some, but it rules out the possibility of searching or balanced portraiture; even the profound Jackson-Davis relationship is unexplored, save for comments like ""Their politics made them equals."" Who is Angela Davis? raises but does not answer the question.