Alexandra Jacobs
April 03, 1998 AT 05:00 AM EST

Benjamin Spock’s mother was a fierce fan of discipline and fresh air; she would have been pleased to find them married in this superb new bio, Dr. Spock: An American Life, of her eldest son, whose Baby and Child Care made him a nursery name. Doubtless eyeing his legacy, the recently expired doctor cooperated fully with Maier (a nice change for the blackballed chronicler of S.I. Newhouse), but — per his child-rearing principles — mostly let him be. So though Spock’s intimates, jealous of his role as national caregiver, remind us that this man we all trusted had some rather peculiar habits (buying lingerie for his daughter-in-law; going limp at antiwar protests), he still comes off as a pretty good egg. A

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