Jim Kilpatrick is hired by the Stapleton and Slocum families--with a $50,000 retainer--to write a history of these wealthy folks. . . which may or may not whitewash them in the eyes of the second-class citizens who have been underpaid workers in the Stapleton/Slocum textile mills. Kilpatrick is a fading idealist whose son Kevin was fragged by his own troops in Vietnam. He also has had a drinking problem, walked out on his wife and four remaining children, and quit his salaried job to become a freelance speechwriter and would-be novelist. As you'd expect, Kilpatrick's research turns up all manner of skeletons tumbling out of closets. Elderly Paul Stapleton, now a jurist trying civil rights cases, is haunted by his father's trip up the Amazon with Teddy Roosevelt (he discovers that Dad shot a native between the eyes at T.R.'s urging). As for offspring, Stapleton has--forgetting an illegitimate son killed in the war--a son who lost a hand and turned against him in the legal field, another who's a druggy homosexual trying to undermine the family fortune with the IRS, and a widowed coke-sniffing daughter-in-law, now a lesbian--till she falls for writer Kilpatrick. Dialogue like granite, moral messages abounding, well-intentioned but lifeless.