Ambitious, hard-working, loving but somewhat inarticulate Nils cannot break the stranglehold the new religion has wound around his sweetheart, Helga, so he leaves the home he loves in Sweden, and goes to America, there to be part of but not one with the communal experiment Erik Jansson has launched. it is an extraordinary picture of one of the phases of American frontier life, one of the steps by which our country grew. It shows how fanatical frenzy (with a bit of sexual ecstasy on the side) can achieve miracles, work disaster, and enthrall thousands. Religion gone askew -- and communal life with its dangers of thwarted and ingrown passions. Jansson blocked the marriage, mated Helga to one of his followers, thrust Nils forth. Nils married an American, was happy until disaster overtook him. Then he too came, temporarily, under the spell only to see his ideals shattered again. The book has power, it has some grand bits of writing and characterization. But it does not stand as a whole.