Books: Rebel Disraeli

JUDAH P. BENJAMIN—Robert Douthat Meade—Oxford ($3.75).

The man whom Abraham Lincoln called the smartest of the Confederate civil leaders is no more familiar to most U.S. readers than Felix Kirk Zollicoffer.* Yet Judah Philip Benjamin was one of the most astonishing figures in U.S. history. This week, 59 years after his death, he got a full-length biography.

Most men are satisfied with one career. Judah Benjamin had five. Before he died at the age of 72 he had been 1) a great U.S. lawyer; 2) a railroad promoter; 3) a U.S. Senator; 4) Confederate...

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