An extraordinarily powerful chronicle novel of a self-made man, a Russian immigrant Jew, who built on nothing but his native wit, his ambition, and his determination to make a mark in the new world. He uses his last cent to get to Chicago. Then he gets a job loading grain, uses his eyes and his ears and his imagination, and steps up the next rung of the ladder, and so on until he is a leading citizen, a pillar of the church, and a big commission merchant. Plausible, convincing, and bit by bit the man takes on reality, along with his wife who thoroughly understands him, and who manages to retain her own individuality in the face of enormous odds. It is the story, too, of an enormous tribe of relatives. A sort of American Magnolia Street, though lacking the warm human sympathy of that book.