An historian's account of Zola's life, this biography considers Zola not only as journalist, novelist, and librettist but also as social crusader and chronicler of France's ills. In contrast to previous biographies, it does not contain detailed studies of his novels, but we learn about the reportlike methods he used to document each of his literary works. Thus, we are able to follow the evolution of his thought and social conscience from early manhood to his key role in the Dreyfus trials. Indeed, Schom devotes five of his 23 chapters to that case. Well-documented, yet not overly burdened with numerous scholarly footnotes, this biography should be of interest to anyone wishing to learn about Zola and the social problems of his day. Danielle Mihram, New York Univ. Lib.