IN A PREFACE to this monumental biography Conrad Black pays tribute to his publisher’s editor, William Whitworth. Their dealings, he tells us, were often abrasive, and conducted entirely by e-mail. He hopes that their intense relationship will eventually lead to an actual meeting. Intriguing. I wonder whether a hard-pressed Whitworth might have suggested cuts. If so, he was overruled. Black’s opus is defiantly, self-indulgently long, and for the most part a painstaking recital of facts, culled from the record of a period the author is not old enough to remember.