An enormously entertaining, vastly conceived melodrama covering the entire history of the Jesuits--the spiritual army of the Pope founded in 1534--up to the near future, all of it hinging on an oil formula (it can be made from common earth!) now being sought by the world's intelligence agencies. It all starts when 1990s super-agent Simon McHenry, an orphan-atheist-soldier-banker raised by the Baltimore Jesuits, is assigned to get his hands on that formula--which is apparently somewhere on the long-frozen body of Six Basil Hawkeland, who was marooned near a volcano in Antarctica a century ago. But before the climactic expedition to the volcano takes place, we and Simon learn all about the ""history"" of the Jesuits and their formula, about the present-day worldwide infiltrations of their secret society: American Jesuits operating out of Georgetown University, controlling government and business; Jesuits and counter-Jesuits in England's intelligence section; the long-established Jesuit spy network in the highest echelons of China's political elite; CIA Jesuits who unknowingly harbor a Soviet ""sleeper"" agent; Vatican Jesuits who save the humanistic Pope from Nazi-minded Cardinals. And along the way there are cameo appearances by Winston Churchill, Teilhard de Chardin, assorted popes, tsars, emperors. . . and Wallace Stevens. The Jesuits may not be amused by this fanciful panorama, but readers with a weakness for freewheeling historical suspense will find this rich and colorful and quasi-educational to boot--a splendid splash of flummery indeed.