Most of the 40 essays in this collection originally appeared in the New Republic , where Krauthammer is a contributing editor, and the Washington Post , for which he writes a weekly syndicated political column. Krauthammer's observations on such subjects as AIDS, abortion, Baby Fae, Star Wars, Bitburg, Nicaragua, Geraldine Ferraro, and Mario Cuomo are usually pungent, lucid, and polished. A problem with the book, however, is its topicality: sometimes the issues or events discussed have by now been resolved or have moved into a new phase. Only for comprehensive collections. Kenneth F. Kister, Tampa, Fla.