Another, even more suitable subtitle for this volume might be: ""The Biography of a Party Hack."" Miss Stern's picture of the East German leader is a relentless expose of a gray little timeserving apparatchik, a bureaucrat par excellence, cunning and amazingly industrious, but utterly devoid of imagination or any of the other prerequisites for creative leadership. Can any human being be quite so dedicatedly dull throughout a long and not uneventful lifetime? However the portrait does ring true--and certainly there is nothing available to the Western reader that would contradict it. For the most part attention is focused here on Ulbricht's official side, and the chapters dealing with pre- World War II German Communist activities are valuable, particularly in respect to the era of the Hitler-Stalin Pact. Space is found, however, for his private life also, disproving ""the notion that he is a demonic man. He is merely a politically dangerous, spiritually crippled and therefore pitiable, petty-bourgeois."" Whether or not this worst-of-all-insults (to a Communist) is completely deserved, the book fills a definite gap.