Twentieth Century Chinese History I--just barely squeezed into 672 pages of an engorged family-tree tale, featuring the Hong Kong Sekloong clan from 1900 to 1970. In 1900 Mary Osgood, daughter of an English bandmaster, is about to marry Charles, son of Six Jonathan, an Irish/Chinese merchant king determined to make his Eurasian family not a fad but a fixture. By 1970, Lady Mary is celebrating her 90th birthday, having, in the interim, produced and scattered innumerable Sekloongs far, wide, and very high in the councils of the mighty. Thomas is the ""political general"" of Chiang Kai-shek; James is the Deputy Political Commissar of the Communist People's Liberation Army; and nephew Spenser is an Undersecretary for the US State Department. Except for Mary's affair with her brother-in-law, there's not too much through the years--from the Boxer rebellion on--to interfere with talky strategy sessions and the weaving alliances and conflicts of such as Sun Yat-sen, the Japanese, Chiang, or Mao. Eventually, however, the Sekloongs do exert themselves--and save the world. Seems that James, shaken by the revelation that he had murdered his own father years back, is uncommonly reasonable in facing nephew Spence across the negotiating table (in the family palace of course) while the Chinese are contemplating military action and the US President is ""brooding darkly, his prognathous jaws clenched."" Elegant (The Seeking, A Kind of Treason) knows the Hong Kong landscape and all the touchstone shifts in Chinese political history--but this is a wearying business, far too improbable, stolid, and sluggish.