SACRED HONOR: The Biography of Colin Powell by David Roth (Zondervan: $18.99; 240 pp.). If you can't wait until 1995 to learn more about Colin Powell's life--that's when the about-to-retire chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is scheduled to publish his autobiography--this book will at least give you an adequate impression of the man. David Roth, the four-star general's one-time press aide, covers the basic biographical bases, from Powell's Harlem-and-Bronx upbringing to his years at the City College of New York, his youthful military assignments in Germany and Vietnam, and the career that took off about the time the then-major finished second (among 1,244 classmates) at the Army's Command and General Staff College. What Roth doesn't provide is a deep sense of the man; it's revealing that Powell's greatest hero is Thomas Jefferson (followed by Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.), but ultimately we don't sense the reasons for Powell's swift rise beyond the cliched virtues of reliability and personal integrity. It's possible, of course, that these two virtues, so rare in Washington, are enough in themselves to explain Powell's success and could likewise explain Roth's belief that Powell will never run, despite the rumors and requests, for Commander in Chief. "Powell would rather fix Volvos in the privacy of his own back yard," Roth writes, "than fight the political, social, and economic battles of the presidency."

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