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Bill Bradley's new memoir (Knopf; 442 pages; $26), could be a prologue to a presidential run. The book has an impressive first printing (100,000 copies), and the author is committed to a 20-city publicity tour. Nonetheless, says Bradley, "what I'm doing is not about candidacy. The book is something I had to do for my soul." That may be all it's good for, notes TIME's John Elson. "Bradley writes about his Senate colleagues so blandly that even North Carolina's Jesse Helms, a bitter ideological foe, gets praised for being 'courtly.'" Never an accomplished orator, Bradley is scarcely more convincing a writer. "The book is outrageously padded with long lists that gobble up lines without clarifying issues," Elson says. "It's not enough for Bradley merely to mention the nation's polluted industrial rivers: he has to add a litany of nine, from the Ohio to the Penobscot. Time and again he offers trenchantly observed summaries of an American social problem--failing schools, for example, or popular fears of violent crime--that trail off into unhelpful cliches."