Perhaps to differentiate this from the multitude of Juarez biographies, Elizabeth Borton de Trevino has rounded off each chapter of fact with a small, fictionalized scene. Presented rather hesitantly as ""the author's extraneous interpolations,"" the vignettes do seem unnecessary and, infused with a sanctimonious emotionalism, are more annoying than entertaining. In contrast, the nonfiction chapters are composed with exemplary simplicity. There is little political background or recapitulation; de Trevino concentrates on Juarez' character and policies -- his personal sobriety and respect for law, his hatred of injustice and strong anti-clericalism. And her patient explanations of why this dedicated democrat did not always wait to be elected and why his anti-church measures were considered reformist help fill in the social and historical context. Staid and somehow old-fashioned, this lacks the fervor of the lives by Rouverol and Atwater and Ruiz, but it is very easy to read and comprehend -- less difficult than even Syme or Nina Baker -- and will be useful wherever that is a primary consideration.