Put Frank Yerby into a social consciousness bag and you have this tale of Ben Franklin, the slave who fought his way up from a position as bodyguard to his liberal master, Legrand, who educated and then freed him. After war broke out Ben organized the ""Native Guard,"" rising to the rank of Colonel as they fought for the Union forces. As Reconstruction sets in, Ben, home again in New Orleans, gives in to exhaustion and disillusionment until once again asked to lend his name to the cause of freedom--a predominantly Negro march to gain the right to vote--a march that ends in massacre. The situations are as extremist as the positions--Ben's love Odette bewitched by voodoo and finally conked out on cocaine; Ben discovering that Legrand's plantation has been usurped by an ex-slave who rules by terror; Claudette Lathan, the respectable white woman-turned-whore who prefers dark meat, etc. The characters are mostly immovable stereotypes and it is doubtful if this will be a welcome addition to the annals of fictional Negro history.