This reader was momentarily put off by the title of this fascinating book. Clement Greenberg was like no one else, and he held fast to his opinions. He was in no sense a “czar.” Nor would he have wished to be so described. The word “czar” is now applied primarily to metropolitan gangsters by people who see it almost as a backhanded compliment. Like many a strong and sometimes peremptory character, Greenberg had his detractors. But if a “czar” had turned up at his front door, Greenberg would have given him the bum’s rush.

Nor did Greenberg have “a fall.” As Ms. Marquis tells it, Greenberg in the last years of his life was “stripped by a larcenous accountant” of some $750,000. That was not “a fall,” but it was a considerable misfortune. Two days after his death on May 4th, 1994, he was described by Michael Kimmelman in The New York Times as...


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