Joel Barlow considered his epic poem, The Columbiad, to be the crowning achievement of his life's work as a poet. Today his writing is remembered, if at all, for his hymn to Hasty Pudding; but Barlow's career as an intimate of Jefferson, Paine, Blake and Godwin, his role in the French Revolution and his stint as America's negotiator with the Barbary pirates make him a colorful, if peripheral, figure. Douty has been 'interested in Barlow for some years (he appears in her Under the New Roof, 1965), but she simply lacks the energy to make this high-powered milieu come alive. Furthermore, short of blaming everything on Robespierre, she doesn't even attempt to deal with the dynamics of the Revolution. When it comes to Barlow's bombastic celebrations of democracy, though, the author's critical eye is wide open, and thin as it is, this portrait reveals something about the new nation's literary aspirations. History buffs too young for Woodress' definitive Yankee's Odyssey might pay this at least passing attention.