The long (1858-1958) life of an Irish-American, Manhattan-based magazine tycoon--in a stout family-dynasty tale stocked with hard times and stereotypical Irish pugnaciousness. He is Terrence McNally the First--so named by immigrant mother Aggie to obliterate, perhaps, the memory of grandfather Terrence and a mysterious sin. (This family secret is tantalizingly whisked throughout the story.) And while Terrence's brothers are sent to Boston, widow Aggie spends the rest of her short life in a Manhattan slum keeping Terrence--who becomes tangled in a ward boss feud--out of trouble. So, after Aggie's death, Terrence is off to City College--helped, too, by schoolteacher Miss Howard. He meets beautiful WASP Sylvia, whom he'll eventually marry. He meets lifelong chum Jake Stern--with whom he founds a college magazine, ticking off the anti-Irish and anti-Jewish opposition on campus. And after college Terrence exercises his talents with a bicyclists' magazine, winding up with his own McNally's Monthly, the kingpin of his future publishing enterprises. Meanwhile, at home: Sylvia, who came to the marriage pregnant (there's a miscarriage), is hardly a mother to son Terry, although she adores younger son Charles; sensitive, gentle Charles will commit suicide after learning of great-grandfather Terrence's ""dread disease"" and after being discovered in homosexual flagrante by brother Terry; father Terrence has an affair; guilt-ridden Terry marries and divorces. And it is Terry's daughter Megan, raised by her mother in France, who will eventually carry on the McNally tradition, convincing Grandpa to update the women's magazine; she also marries old Jake's great-nephew and roots out those old family secrets. A bit skimpy on atmosphere and gritty period ambiance, with heavy-handed lessons about bigotry and women's lib--but a simple, steady, decently crafted saga for devotees of the dynasty genre.