This is the fairest form of biography, the record of a man from his letters and speeches. It forces readers to judge the subject for themselves and in Webster's case, the effort is well spent. Daniel Webster (1781-1852) employed a classical simplicity of style and his recorded speeches are still a pleasure to read. His voluminous personal correspondence reveals a letter writer of practiced grace. Mr. Lewis has provided brief transitional details as well as thumbnail sketches (at the back of the book) of Webster's many correspondents. Webster was a moderate at that point in 1850 when Northerners and Southerners were demanding partisanship. It was then, Mr. Lewis theorizes, that angry, disappointed Abolitionists began circulating snide stories about Webster's drinking habits, unsupported by the record but strengthened by Webster's irrefutable willingness to accept financial assistance from the business community whose causes he made his--without apparent strain. Thus, the most compelling of early 19th century statesman-orators has remained a controversial subject for biographers--either whitewashed or (more recently) blackened. This excellent sifting of the source material puts his case, in his always powerfully persuasive words, within the grasp of a popular reading audience.