A searching, impressionistic family history and biography by the son of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the Civil War novel Andersonville. Kantor, a successful photojournalist, draws on family records, letters, fragments of memory, and short excerpts from his father's own novels in wending his way through an ancestral past that--as the book's title suggests and he openly admits--constantly haunts him. He begins with his grandfather, John, son of the Midwest, ""a bully and a fraud"" whose reputation for lying cast a positive and negative shadow over his progeny: positive, in that it sparked the fictive urge later taken up by his son MacKinlay; negative, in that it marked the Kantor men as macho boasters willing to twist life itself in order to compensate for ego insecurities. The latter is in many ways the theme here: MacKinlay's own WW II deeds, his marital infidelities (including an affair with Peggy Pulitzer, daughter-in-law of the publisher), and his attempts to live up to the standards of his literary heroes--Hemingway and Tolstoy--are seen by the author as dangerous but thrilling examples of games men play, games that have intruded on Kantor's own life. His failed marriages, aborted artistic projects, and one-time alcoholism, recalled in brief detail near the end, are traced directly to his ""obsession"" with the father figure and are proof for him that we (especially men) are all ""entrapped by the past."" Lyrical, brutally honest yet ambiguous in its macho posturing: a book that should appeal to fans of MacKinlay Kantor and to students of male-bonding tales.