Smartly written, unauthorized celebrity bio, so flank that it rises above the genre, presenting Berbra as a kind of Beloved Medusa, a creature of mythic narcissism whose poisonous eye can paralyze but whose spontaneity and gargantuan talent before the mike is one of the marvels of the century. One day there was a new generation and Barbra found she could no longer sell the oldies--she who had been the darling of Vogue and the Top Ten charts had gone out of fashion. She looked about her and found the world taken over by the Beetles and Carol King. The days of the theatrical diva of Funny Girl and Hello Dolly were dust. Strangely, Barbra had always thought her voice a gift secondary to her more serious work as an actress--had she not copped an Oscar at 26? She who had picked up Judy Garland's torch and rivaled Frank Sintra among the pop icons had said, ""I hate to sing. I never do it in the bath,"" Now fallen to the Presley clones, Barbra went forth to meet the rockers, not to do battle. . .but to join 'em. Despite her phenomenal popularity with fans, Barbra leaves bodies behind her wherever she goes and has earned an often skeptical press. So, she has spent many years avoiding interviews unless she has text approval or can someway protect herself against barbs. Her ability to avenge earlier alights is a joy to behold when the knife is in her hands. But she is equally adept at cutting anyone, from her mother to the most innocent well-wisher. When a secretary at Columbia Records asks if she can watch a recording session, Barbra replies no. Why not? someone asks. ""Do I sit and watch her type?"" Considine himself was never granted an interview since he would not allow Barbra to read his manuscript first. His is the story of her every recording session, TV special, film and stage appearance, from her first triumph in Broadway's I Can Get It For You Wholesale to the mixed triumph of her actor-director debut in Yentl (a financial smash hit and nicely reviewed--but Oscar-snubbed), and from ""Second Hand Rose"" to her biggest album ever (triple platinum, 8 million sales), the Barry Gibb-written Guilty, a soft-rocker which finds Streisand at her most overwhelmingly restrained and moving.