A blockbusting first novel about a dynasty of Afro-Americans, the Claviers, who fight for freedom every step of the way from 1772 to the point in the future when Clay Clavier is about to become the first black president. Jacques Clavier, founder of the dynasty, is a West Indian maroon (escaped slave turned outlaw) whose love and best friend are captured by North American slavetraders. In the process of freeing them, Jacques becomes first a sailor, then a New Bedford shipowner and captain. Successive generations show the development of the black middle-class and the intellectual ""talented tenth"": Jason, a militant abolitionist (educated at the Sorbonne) goes South to run for office during Reconstruction. His youngest son is murdered by the Klan. His sister Isabella passes for white, her great-grandson (she marries a plantation owner) becoming a Dixiecrat pol. And Jason's son Clay, who cannot find a job despite an honors degree from the University of Chicago, ends up running the numbers racket there--until he is driven out by the syndicate and has to go legit. Jourdain's research--in the footsteps of Alex Haley--is impressive; the artistry, however, wavers. The book's final chapters drag us through the Sixties and Seventies fast enough to get vertigo. The plot's resolution--the Dixiecrat who is trying to stop Clay from getting the Democratic nomination turns out to be part Clavier himself and will do anything to keep it quiet--is hokey, to say the least. The history is sometimes injected in indigestible chunks. And the dialogue is sometimes terribly stiff. But such flaws don't keep this from being an energetic, picturesque, and undeniably educational fiction follow-up to the Roots explosion.