Books: Diffident Owl

FINAL REPORTS by Richard Rovere Doubleday; 244 pages; $16.95

To call Richard Rovere a political reporter would be to call Tocqueville a travel writer or Boswell a gossip columnist. "I'm really not especially interested in politics," Rovere insists in this posthumous collection of previously unpublished reflections and autobiographical snippets. Instead; his quarry is "American life in all its wonder and looniness."

Rovere has a caricaturist's instinct for the grotesqueries of stump and smoke-choked room, of presidential campaigns, congressional hearings ("Nothing that Washington has to offer comes closer to theater") and state visits. He...

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