Kroll has several times come near to writing a first rate book. This time he has succeeded. I've watched him with interest (his own career, his rise from share cropper boy to writer and teacher is as telling as fiction). His last book, The Keepers of the House was a story motivated by revenge. The Usurper is a story motivated by ambition, not the ambition that steps on the necks of human beings to reach a goal, but a seemingly harmless ambition to rise above class distinctions, to reach certain specific goals, which seem, at the time, ends in themselves and symbols. It is a story of the deep south, of the conflict between the growers and the share croppers; it is a story of boom days, of depression, of the gradual emergence of the district. There is lawlessness and lust and greed and class feeling. One cannot like -- not really like -- any of the main characters, but Stan Butterworth who pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, only to find the view not what he expected, is an unforgettable figure who arouses sympathy in spite of onesself. And it is a first rate story.