Another fable of the super-rich, who are, of course, different from you and me--because they're isolated from real life and, best of all, because they'll each be handily punished in one way or another. This is certainly true of the Cornelius family--oil, food chains, shipping, pharmaceuticals, insurance: etc., etc.--from 1900 to 1976. Johann Cornelius arrives a penniless immigrant from Holland, but in his lifetime consumes a continent of multiplying interlocking assets by exploiting weakness wherever he finds it: the government's influence network, an enemy caught off guard, or the innocent common man (farmers are deceived about strip mining, a sheriff is ""painlessly removed""). But Johann has his Rosebud--partially exhumed by his 84-year-old widow at the close of the novel--in buried memories of two women who died because of him. Meanwhile, the second Cornelius generation kicks tentatively against Family Responsibility: one son is but a figurehead for his icy wife's executive talents; another dies to leave children by different mothers who will fall into incestuous love; and daughter Hope, who causes a death by trying to meld with the simple poor, marries twice and dies young of cancer. And things are even worse for the third generation. Throughout, there is a virtuoso assortment of dirty tricks, from fist-to-gut punches in Johann's early days to the more refined methods of Bookbinder, the Cornelius chief executive, who will be literally crucified. A slab-shouldered, professional mix of robber-baron old velvet, a bolt of executive suite gaming, and a thread of vaguely familiar scandal. At 923 pages--a beefy Whopper, well done.