Here is today's version of Dodsworth, with a bit less compassion and a bit more acidity. The result is a recognizable portrait of many a top executive in American industry, the modern robber barons who justify their successive advances by rationalization and insistence on the major virtues. Willis Wayde was a more or less ordinary little boy when his rolling stone of a father moved to the one job that held him, as inventor and engineer in a New England family-owned industry. Willis quite naturally slipped into place as a somewhat patronized friend of the family, whose advance was sponsored by the head of the firm, but who was always a trifle insecure in his relations with them. Once he had taken those steps forward that seemed possible, he moved on to something else, knowing he must break the bonds. But always there was a good reason for successive moves -- and always that nagging unsureness that needed outward approval. His marriage was perhaps the most unAmerican thing about him. Would Sylvia, who had her own reservations, have been quite so acceptant? The first half of his story has its own compulsion of interest and challenge. I found the last half lacking any element of surprise, while Willis Wayde, as his power increased, grew less convincing, less likable, and wholly predictable. But of course it will be read. Serialized in L.H.J.