In the ""Acknowledgments,"" Longford reports that his book is based on forty years of studies and experiences. It is sad to think that such protracted parturition could produce such a slight offspring. Couched in the style of a long outmoded piety and adorned with senior-catechism illustrations, the book is a Reader's Digest life of Jesus, derived solely and literally from the Gospel narratives and spliced here and there with Longford's spiritless observations. Innocent of almost all contemporary scholarship, it merely recounts what any casual reader of the Gospels knows. There may be those, still comfortable with an older style of Catholic spirituality, who might appreciate such a Gospel precis, but the '40's and '50's produced books of this genre that are much superior.