An historical novel, in which young David, driven by an inner urge to achieve some measure of attainment beyond that of his fellows, is swept from one phase of a crude country's progress to another. Caught in the surge of two opposing forces in the Whiskey Rebellion, inspired by Lawyer Brackenridge to reach out toward mental attainments, by Preacher Strong to seek the kingdom of the soul, by his own passions to become involved in brawls, romance, prison, the brothels, David has a tempestuous career. The scene shifts from Pittsburgh, to Philadelphia, from the river to the mountains, from Louisville to Natchez and New Orleans. The characters make a connecting thread of pattern, but it is more a novel of pace and action than of characters, which somehow never achieves full stature. There are a good many historical characters met briefly; there are various steps in the struggle for identifying freedom with control in a new country, there is now and then some sense of confusion with an overcrowded canvas. But all in all, it is a better than average historical novel.