Uhnak's first novel since Victims (1985) begins when six Bronx kids, turning on an abusive neighborhood bully, Walter Stachiew, beat him, leave him for dead, allow one of their fathers to be executed for his murder—and then spend 40 years overachieving as the past waits to catch up with them. Even as each of the kids is making it big, they're all piling up new secrets. Take-charge Dante D'Angelo is able to marry into a wealthy, well-connected Italian family and serve two terms as a liberal New York senator only because Maryanne Radsinski, the whore who seduced him one night and pleaded pregnancy, is bought off by his uncles. Tomboy Megan Magee, conquering polio to become a hotshot psychiatrist and spokesperson for women's issues, has a notorious aunt and a manic-depressive husband—as well as a long-standing crush on Danny. Megan's cousin—epileptic, ethereally beautiful Eugene O'Brien- -rises through the ranks of the Church because of his questionable closeness to rich patrons, and his brother Charley, rediscovering his Jewish roots, has been smuggling arms to Israel together with Ben Herskel, who's reversed his determination to renounce his own Jewishness, emigrated to Israel, and become General Herskel, Israeli delegate to the UN. Even Willie Paycek, whose hated janitor father was electrocuted after being discovered standing over Stachiew with a coal shovel, has fought his way to the top, turning his agreement to marry Maryanne and take her off to Hollywood into the springboard for a successful filmmaking career. But Willie's never forgiven the other kids for not befriending him despite the dark secret they share, and he bides his time until he can turn Maryanne's gossip-columnist son against his old accomplices in a regrettably predictable finale. Murder, sex, religion, politics; FDR, WW II, death camps; generational strife, multiple betrayals, and all the uplift you'd expect from a successful miniseries. Irresistible kitsch.
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