A family of American Defense experts finds their personal cold war dissolving in this eccentric and often amusing satirical romp by the author of Becoming the Enemy (1988) and River of Light (1978). Dad was a diplomat in a never-ending series of troubled Third World countries; brother Davy grew up to become a Navy fighter pilot; and as soon as the kids could take care of themselves, Mom signed up for a career in the CIA. Along with eldest sister Sidney, a Seattle psychologist, middle sister Tia, a trauma nurse, and an assortment of half-forgotten, quasi-neglected grandkids, these MacKenzie family members have been prepared for the Big One since the possibility emerged. Their story begins with Sidney's description of the day a terrifying false alarm forced them to drop their facades long enough to glimpse, if only briefly, the unique but powerful tribal love that held them together; the tale proceeds then--in a revolving merry-go-round of family voices--through divorces, beatings, kidnappings, transcendent visions and unforeseen, potentially violent reunions toward the day when mother MacKenzie, heretofore a veritable whirlwind of barely controlled rage, suddenly claps her hands happily and says, ``The Cold War really is over, isn't it?'' Unsure, unskilled, and dazed in the wake of a tumultuous family (and national) history, the MacKenzies face a new age bewildered but eager--the quintessential nuclear family, unsteady, ever-hopeful and on the rise. Peterson's tongue-in-cheek characters have a tendency to border on caricature at times, subtracting from the book's power, but, all in all, this is a step up--a highly original work by an intriguing author.