Kirkus Star


Email this review


Drury has apparently asked himself the question: What does a Red-bashing epic novelist do when the menace from the Evil Empire recedes? His answer, unfortunately, is to go back to college. In this case, back to a place of innocence and golden hues--Stanford in 1938-39--as the long shadows of war stretched across Europe and the Pacific, into the lives of a generation of Americans without memory of the last groat conflict. While the tensions portrayed are largely interpersonal rather than international, the outside world intrudes just the same, with local confrontations between interventionists and isolationists, American Nazis and American Jews. Drury's saga is a cornucopia of controversial issues, with characters representing a veritable What's What of social ills: Bayard Johnson, the quiet African-American crossing the color line as a Stanford undergraduate; Rudy Krohl, the strident Aryan-American, intolerant and relentless in his defense of appeasement; ""Duke"" Offenberg, the resident Jew, burdened by his racial history and by current events; North McAllister, the tormented homosexual trying to keep his secret, but recklessly in love. Not to mention the dumb jock, ""Moose"" Musavich; the crusading newspaper editor, Tim Bates; or the football team's favorite plaything, Suzy ""Welcome"" Waggoner--tokens and stereotypes all. The world's problems find close quarters on campus in the context of daily life in a fraternity house, but are mostly held in check by the benign presence of Willie Wilson, student-body head and the archetypical Joe College. Sweet scenes of halcyon days and noble Youth coming-of, age are mixed with heavy dollops of melodrama, and the result is pure treacle. In the end Willie and his frat brothers do the right thing--by snubbing the Nazis and marrying their sweethearts. College nostalgia unbound. Painfully slow, woefully anachronistic--though a real gem for Stanford boosters and alums.

Pub Date: July 17th, 1990
Publisher: Morrow