A petty, lopsided look at the Conservative savior and herald of imperialism that dwells in such finger-licking detail on his early weaknesses--he was, inarguably, an opportunist and a fop--as to obscure his later achievements, which in any case are barely comprehensible here. No matter how weighty the subject--the controversial repeal of the Corn Laws, opposition to which sparked Disraeli's political career; the cannily structured 1867 (electoral) Reform Bill, which made him a party hero--Hibbert sprinkles his explanation with gossipy anecdotes, thereby burying the issues in trivia. He is best on Disraeli's relations with his doting, much older, slightly dim wife--at whose death, according to Hibbert, Disraeli sobered up--and with Queen Victoria, whose suspicions of the Jewish-born parvenu turned, as history knows, to devoted admiration. But never, here, does Disraeli have her crowned Empress of India. With a high proportion of pointless pictures and inane captions (""Edward Lytton Bulwer, brilliant dandy, whose first book Pelham was far better received than Disraeli's Vivian Grey""), the next thing to useless as a one-stop introduction.