The chronicle of the Kaivanov family, parvenu nobles of immense wealth, spanning the years from 1854 to 1920, is visualized by the author as the personification of the history of declining Czarist Russia- Steeped in luxury and perversion, there is, nonetheless, something dynamically attractive about the extravagant passions and appetites of the ruling Kaivanovs: Guchkor, the first to receive the princely title; Olga, ravishing and impetuous, dead at eighteen as the result of a wager; Anastasia, impulsive, arrogant, who sees her world crumble during the revolution, but whose intelligence and beauty, reminiscent of her earlier predecessors, saves her. Although Thomas Armstrong does expose the Kaivanov depravity, in the end, when they are confronted by the savage anger of the revolutionaries, he portrays them as victims. Much has been attempted in this story of a dynasty. Unfortunately, despite the projected War and Peace proportions of this manuscript, (the attempt to portray a complete world through the lives of one family) what has emerged is a string of episodes, essentially similar in spirit, concerning various individuals, none of whom really is complete nor substantial. And Russia has become little more than a huge stage on which quantity serves for depth, repetition replaces growth, and sensationalism is substituted for force.