A largely successful effort to bring to book the renegade financier whose arrogance, depredations, and political connections made him the apotheosis of the white-collar criminals who laid waste to America's thrift institutions. Drawing on access to their subject, as well to his associates and prosecutors, Binstein (columnist Jack Anderson's collaborator) and Bowden (The Secret Forest, p. 270, etc.) offer a detailed rundown on Charles Keating's life and times. They track the errant banker from a hard-scrabble Catholic boyhood in Cincinnati through stateside service as a Navy pilot during WW II and his upward climb as an on-the-make lawyer. Early on, Keating allied himself with Carl Lindner, a low-profile buccaneer who built American Financial Corp. This partnership prospered, then soured, driving Keating to Arizona, where he set up shop as a homebuilder. Sensing the opportunities opened up by deregulation, he acquired Lincoln Savings & Loan during the early 1980's. Using that institution's federally insured deposits to satisfy his merchant-banking ambitions, Keating proved an immensely inept, albeit awesomely prodigal, wheeler-dealer. Eventually nailed by authorities, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison on a wealth of charges. The authors leave little doubt that, in many respects, Keating's career defies comprehension--he was an ostensibly devoted family man and tireless campaigner against pornography, for instance, who persistently flouted securities and banking laws and who suborned both elected and appointed officials. In like vein, Binstein and Bowden recount how a pillar of rectitude was at boozy ease in pleasure domes from Las Vegas to Monte Carlo. Whether Keating managed to divert significant amounts of the megabuck sums he squandered on failed enterprises to his own or his family's account, however, remains an open question. As complete and satisfying a wrap-up as is likely to be available any time soon on the man who, arguably, played the leading role in the S&L debacle.