A serviceable biography of the black attorney/businessman whose accomplishments set a challenging standard for tycoons of any ethnic background. Before he died of brain cancer at age 50 early in 1993, Lewis had partially completed a memoir of his remarkable life and career. Drawing on these jottings, as well as on extensive interviews with his subject's close-knit family, friends, and associates, USA Today correspondent Walker offers a warts-and-all portrait of an irresistible force. From his East Baltimore boyhood on, the ultra-industrious Lewis planned, even schemed, to make himself a world-class success. Barely an average student at Virginia State, he finessed his way into Harvard Law School without even taking the entrance exam. After a two-year stint with the top-drawer Manhattan firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, he struck out on his own. Serving a lengthy apprenticeship as a specialist in minority-enterprise small-business-investment corporations, Lewis learned enough to become a player in the great takeover game that preoccupied Wall Street during the 1980s. After a couple of false starts, he masterminded a leveraged buyout of McCall Pattern Co., which in a few years yielded him and fellow investors a 90-to-1 return. With a little help from his friend Michael Milken, he went on to engineer another coup -- the LBO for nearly one billion dollars of Beatrice International Foods. At the time of his death, Lewis had the Paris-based enterprise operating on an enviably profitable basis throughout Europe. This account of Lewis's achievements emphasizes his tough-minded, goal-oriented approach to personal and philanthropic as well as financial affairs.