The author of The Sisters, The Amateur, and The Debriefing follows the career of a committed communist from his radical youth in the US to his disenchantment in Stalinist Russia. Alexander Til, a Jew, the descendant of an early revolutionary, fled the horrors of Czarist Russia with his father only to find different horrors in capitalist New York, where he helplessly watches his brother and friends as they perish in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. Radicalized by the callousness of the factory's owners, Til begins to organize the local working-classes--until his leftist views bring him to the attention of an already insufferable young J. Edgar Hoover. Forced to flee Hoover, Til sails back to Russia with his sadistic half-Russian friend Atticus Tuohy, both of them bankrolled for the trip by Leon Trotsky, who's also returning. They are immediately swept into the thick of Bolshevik activity and join the party's vicious struggle to oust the provisional government that has replaced the Czar. It's not all work, however. Til falls heavily for a free-thinking princess, and they share some pleasurable moments as they work to put Lenin on top. But the battle to subdue the White Russian dissidents dampens the Bolshevist triumph and begins to chip away at Til's seamless confidence in the party's leadership. The loyal Til sticks with the party through the worst of Stalin's oppression--until he is so brutalized that he can no longer accept the betrayal of the revolution. An intelligent, careful, and thoroughly readable epic that is mercifully free of the cardboard characters and embarrassingly awkward historical accommodations that often plague similar works.