Thudbury exists to demonstrate that the old Order does not yield place to new-and dies, the reader feels, still convinced he is right. Private enterprise, controlled by the High Mogul; workers, gratefully battening on paternalism; society, pigeonholed and untouchable, graciously recognizes the various levels, but does not permit social inferiors to cross the line, and so on and so on. The story, with Thudbury and his one time schoolmate and later managing editor as central figures, spans the late years of the 19th century and the half century of the 20th, is an attempt to create a stereotype of a Big Man, head of a banking and industrial empire in an upstate New York small city. America grows- but Thudbury refuses to change. Why should he; his pattern persists in his inward eye, and he is Success, spelled in capitals. There could have been more warmth in the portrait; as it is, the reader views him with detached scepticism and scant liking, the flavor- a distinctive one- unpalatable. The high spot of the book (which carries its mead of melodrama, romance and adventure) is the cross country automobile race, in which our two heroes (?) race a Mercedes to demonstrate- Thudbury claims- the necessity of improving American highways. That they bog down in Nebraska's mud to him proves his point, but that they win the race by putting the car, short a damaged cylinder aboard, a box car and ride the rails to California, bothers his conscience not a whit. Conscience or no conscience, the episode makes entertaining reading, and for that period of the book, Thudbury exists. For the greater part, however, this reader found him a lay figure, used to dramatize an idea. The farce, for so it must be considered, is never humorous enough nor ironic enough to make Thudbury another Great Gatsby nor yet a Babbitt -- and yet we all know people presumably like him. And the panorama of American social history contributes to the values of the book.