Seth Evergood, Jack Burden -- why is it, we wonder, that the heroes of our political fiction so often have such names, as if to imply that American politics -- even in its most drastically literal moments -- was some kind of manifest moral allegory. In any case, this is to the '60's what All the King's Men was to the '30's, and in style and method bears it close comparison (e.g., the merciless journalistic instinct, and sensitivity to the larger, and largely psychological, problems of history and tradition) but it is most instructive to see what happens to the themes of disillusionment and self discovery as they are recast in the terms of the later decade. Evergood is no callow young initiate to corruption; rather, he is an established and -- for the movement -- aging radical innocent whose aristocratic parents exerted themselves on behalf of the Spanish Republic and whose younger cohorts now are experimenting with alternative family forms and a horrifically revised style of ""family""-based activism. His problem is not corruption so much as idealistic infantilism, which leads him to imagine a tradition where there are really centrifugally opposed forces, and drives him to try to reconcile those forces in a frenzied effort that no longer distinguishes between personal inadequacy and historical impossibility. His center, such as it was, has not held; it's only with pills and convenient trips out of town and a constant emotional juggling that he can manage to keep up the outward man. But, oddly, as the conflicts sharpen -- with his mother's request that he edit his father's journals and a friend's urgings that he transport bombs for the Weathermen -- the center begins little by little to firm up and Seth, an initiate in reverse, finally does discover who he is, just in time to take the consequences of his bumbled shamming. This is a bland, generalized outline for an ominously insinuating and sharply specified book (one to raise radical hackles and make everybody speculate), which will survive as an essential picture of that ontologically unhooked decade.