This can make it at the popular as well as the pundit level, for while the general readers are given ample material for heroic laughter the serious critics have been given a superb launching pad for lengthy, analytic appreciations. (A switch known among lighthearted bookmen as the Catch 22 syndrome.) Sharing the name and surpassing the compulsion of Johnson's own, this James Boswell dedicated himself from adolescence on to the collection of celebrities in every field and a journal of total exposure. The stripling Boswell developed his physique to develop his confidence in getting to the ""great."" From the start, his intuitive location of the entering chink to various circles recalls his ameskae's sly persistence in waiting on 18th century doorsteps. The 20th century Boswell is without funds and the wrestling circuit is a natural for his bulging muscles. His unlooked for success as a wrestler culminates in a powerful scene (run in SEP) where he is brought to the mat by the Grim Reaper and nearly killed. An intensified fear of death and the conviction that the famous have cheated time leads to beserk efforts at collecting -- doctors, actors, jet set, academics, clerics -- no party is safe from the ex-wrestler turned full time gate crasher. His devouring stare cuts into the ""greatness"" of each group with a killing satiric ray and his marriage to a declasse Italian princess brings him up to the wall of the Vatican. Alternately fighting and giving in to the collecting urge, Boswell's knowledge of self builds through knowing others. No short review can do this comic odyssey justice. Believe the book jacket for a change.