A novel that spans the greater part of the 19th century, as it traces the full life of Johnny Cotter, from the time of his running away from home to become a whaler in his grandfather's fleet out of New Bedford -- to his death, as owner of a stock-breeding farm in Missouri. The gold fever -- the glamour of the Santa Fe Trail -- the Civil War -- all play a part in building his life. There were three women in his life, the woman he married, the woman he loved and the woman he should have married. Up to and through the part of the book dealing with the war, it is a vigorous, interesting story; the last part somehow misses fire and seems to peter off in holding power. Rentals, primarily.