The many who found Dr. Sandmel's earlier volume, The Hebrew Scriptures, one of the most lucid and incisive introductions to the Old Testament published in recent years, won't be disappointed in this penetrating profile which is scholarly and precise, intelligent and well-documented as well as readable and entertaining. The author, Provost of the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, is particularly expert in explaining complicated historical and political backgrounds. He demonstrates that the power and achievements of the Herod dynasty were due not only to the innate talents of the family but to the opportunities for prestige which the world situation afforded. Herod's is primarily the story of an insatiable quest for power and the corruption that fear brings. And if Dr. Sandmel excels in interpreting history, he does not ignore the humanity of his ""inhuman"" subject; as he points out, if Herod was hated and cruel, he was also maligned. Among the canards challenged is the portrait of Herod in the Gospel according to Matthew. A fine study of religious ideas as well as social and political forces and an exciting biography of a complex man.