A family history of sorts, traced out by Masters (Success, 1992; Strickland, 1989, etc.) in two directions to converge in the most unlikely manner. Two independent stories are told in alternating chapters, though their relation is implied at the beginning and quickly becomes recognizable. The first tale, set in 1939-40, concerns Roy Armstrong, an American aviator stranded in Mexico. Roy has been stripped of his US citizenship because of his participation in the Spanish Civil War, and his efforts to regain it bring him into the arms of Peggy Arnett, a Pittsburgh steel heiress who hovers around any political cause ripe enough to carry the odor of revolution. The fact that Roy has a Communist lover only increases his allure in Peggy's eyes, and she manages to use her family's influence to restore him to the good graces of the Roosevelt Administration. We first meet Walter Hardy, our second hero, in 1968, when he is 28 and setting out on a career in politics; he eventually becomes a go-between for the Reagan White House in its dealings with the Nicaraguan freedom fighters. His father had worked as a chauffeur for Mrs. Arnett, who took an early interest in Walt, sent him to Cornell, and remembered him in her will. Now the Oliver North hearings have Walt in the hot seat, but fortunately he has come into possession of a paper trail long enough and damning enough to take down some people far more prominent than himself. Much of this trail leads overseas, and in pursuing it Walt finds that it adds up to a strange web of intrigue with Peggy Arnett at the center, and many apparently independent players, such as Roy Armstrong (and Walt Hardy), inextricably tangled in it as well. As a political morality tale, surprisingly subtle and deft. Masters is gifted with an easy style that lends obvious plot twists freshness and credibility, and that keeps a fundamental lack of originality from intruding upon the story's progress. Overwrought but palatable.