This is an action and character novel by a Brazilian. It chronicles the social rise and the political fall of Gabriel Heliodoro, newly installed ambassador to the U.S. from El Sacramento, a fictitious Caribbean country. It is a work of straight realism, which takes up the lives of several people connected with the embassy and follows part of a leftist revolution in San Sacramento. Heliodoro, an Indian revolutionary become a diplomat riding high, is the focal point. His love affair with young Senora Vivanco, wife of one of his officials, precipitates the political crisis. Pable Ortega's abortive affair with a neurotic American girl fades into his activities as a revolutionary and finally as legal defense for Heliodore. Jorge Molina, an ascetic, is shown in his struggles to write, against his conscience, the biography of an opportunist priest. Bill Godkin, a lonely, aging reporter, is a kind of observer. So emotion and memories and love struggles interweave with the positions the characters take in the political arena, which grows larger and larger as the book moves toward and through the crisis--the revolution. Verissimo can handle this passionate mixture of the personal and the political; he has undoubtedly lived in this kind of world. The novel is not great, but it gives a dramatic tails sharp focus and it is a solid job.