Dr. K.C. Wu was for many years right-hand man to Chiang Kai-shek. He left Chiang, according to his publisher, because of the Generalissimo's insatiable ambition -- a lust responsible for the 8th Army's strategic victory in the vast, ancient land. Dr. Wu, we are told, attempted this work originally as non-fiction, but the fear of libel forced him to encapaulize his ideas in the novel form. The Lane of Eternal Stability becomes, therefore, not all of China but a fictitious lane in an inland Canton. The symbolic street is viewed over a period of 60 years and its inhabitants -- three generations of them -- are of the house of Ho. As filial piety goes, so goes the nation. When the Confucian gentleman seeks a short cut he finds only chaos. Disobedience and expediency involve the sons of Ho first in the well-intentioned Republic of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, then in the camp of Chiang and his monomaniacal attempts to make himself master of the Kuomintang, and finally in the blood-bathed, malevolent brilliance of the 8th Army. We see Communist strength batten on the failures of Chiang and the name of ""Marx"" change from a chided homonym for ""horse fares"" In Chinese to a unifying, omnipotent threat to both the United Sates and Russia. Dr. Wu has done more than thinly disguise ideas and accusations with a fictive cloak. He's written a sweeping, comprehensive novel recounting three-score years which undid centuries. It is an enlightening, almost brilliant work.