Here at last is a book which makes Korea- its history and its people, its driving urge for freedom and independence and the richness of its cultural heritage-come to life. And in this lies the contribution the book makes. It gives meaning to the generally considered futility of the Korean War; it puts its own reward of merit on the sacrifice and carnage, the bitter cost of that war. One feels Korea was worth saving for itself. Pearl Buck has done this through the story of a family, over three generations and more, stemming back to the last decade of the 19th century- and forward to our own times. There is a richly detailed background of court life, of history shaped by treachery, betrayal, dissension, revolution, the painful awakening of the downtrodden poor to their rights in the country they loved. High ranking in court circles at the start of the story, her family- in its many ramifications- became identified with the ""liberal"" thinkers, who recognized an outside world, not always wisely, and who cared above all for their country's freedom. As a novel, the plot threads sometimes tangle; as a portrait of a people, it is an achievement.