Books: Kiss Me, Harding

THE SHADOW OF BLOOMING GROVE:

WARREN G. HARDING IN HIS TIMES by Francis Russell. 691 pages. McGraw-Hill. $12.50.

Writing an exciting biography about Warren Gamaliel Harding is like filming a chase sequence with a wooden Indian. Harding's instincts were all for posture. Like a suntanned Roman, he struck his Midwest Ciceronian pose and held it, occasionally delivering himself of the sort of speech that instantly self-destructs upon reaching the brain.

Francis Russell, historian of Sacco and Vanzetti (Tragedy in Dedham), keeps his camera circling the 29th President of the United States and sometimes almost creates the illusion the body is twitching with life. Manfully...