William the Silent (1533-84) and his attempts--only partially and temporarily successful--to unite the Netherlands independent of Spain, in a heavily detailed but unpointed portrait that omits some of his most dramatic moments. So precise are some of the scenes of his early years at the Spanish Court that even the causes of Charles' indigestion are indicated; yet there is also some characterization of the hostilities among Lutherans, Calvinists and Catholics, laying a foundation for subsequent battles. Once he begins the fight for independence, the momentum picks up slightly--the holdout of Haarlem, cutting of the dikes at Alkmaar--yet significant items are overlooked: his resignation from the stadholder office is noted but not his gesture (refusal to take the loyalty oath). Also, the landing at Enkhuizen is ignored but there is a long section on the siege at Leiden which he directed from outside the city. Not all of this is equally relevant and it tends to obscure the larger issues of religious rivalries within and Spanish opposition outside the nascent state. Overweighted with minutiae and not at all sharpened for young readers.