BOOKS: EASY HEAD, UNEASY CROWN

A CANDID LOOK AT QUEEN ELIZABETH AND HER WORLD

With its evenhanded blend of public spectacle and intimate detail, Sarah Bradford's new biography, Elizabeth (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 564 pages; $30), is rumored to have nettled the Queen when published in Britain recently, but it is really the book she deserves. It's all here, the public occasions and ceremonies, the baffling indirections of court diplomacy, the knots and ravels of an intense family life. Elizabeth II, 70 this month, has reigned 44 long years, years spent largely in public. Her lifetime assignment is to be the embodiment of the monarchy, and at that she is impeccable--serene, stately, swift at reading...

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