Sturdy political biography of the author of modern American conservatism (not authorized, but written with its subject's cooperation). Historian Goldberg (Univ. of Utah) is well grounded in the big picture--the evolution of conservative thought and the inner workings of electoral politics. This helps him to place Goldwater in the tradition of the libertarian right and also to document the social and political forces that brought him, if only for a brief time, to the forefront of the Republican Party after the collapse of Nelson Rockefeller's moderate agenda in the early 1960s. Goldberg's analysis of national trends of the time--and especially of the role of the media--will be of special interest to students of contemporary politics. Goldberg also has an appreciation for the smaller details, such as Goldwater's fascination with aircraft, radios, photography, and the outdoors, the things that make the icon of conservatism human. (So, too, does Goldwater's wry, self-deprecating humor, such as his saying to journalist Stewart Alsop in the thick of the 1964 presidential campaign, ""You know, I haven't got a really first-class brain."") Himself a resident of the West, Goldberg understands the ""frontier values"" that affected Goldwater's conception of politics, such as his belief that a government ought to operate like his mother's household, ""open, direct, and honest."" Goldberg points out a few ironies--for one, the civil libertarian Goldwater's championing of Joseph McCarthy, saying, ""the people who want to get rid of [him] . . . are people who coddle communists""--and notes that Arizonans, a conservative bunch and Goldwater's earliest constituency, have long benefited from federal largess for which the anti--Big Government Goldwater was largely responsible. All in ail, a useful addition to the growing library of books (see Lee Edwards's Goldwater, p. 751) on Goldwater's role in postwar American politics.