An eclectic yet singularly wiry and amusing confession by child Samuel Heather, 40 years of age, ""actuarially due to cease. . . at the year 2000."" Son of an Episcopalian Bishop from Kansas City, Samuel, who inevitably experienced a ""sibling rivalry with Jesus Christ,"" sums up his odyssey as ""an epic struggle with Father, now in its third invigorating decade."" Yet this is essentially a recap of survival tactics via a satisfying sense of elitist superiority and a certainty that ""the best way to influence the world is to show your contempt and disrespect for it."" He moves rockily through a year at Harvard and falls in and out of love with Martha, whose airy dismissal sends him off to the army in the right state of mind: ""the Korean war got going just when I most needed to kill somebody."" Between razzledazzle reconstructions of the MacArthur-Truman-Eisenhower follies, Heather zeroes in on his own. He remembers his seconds of action and the death of a buddy in terrible slow motion, then accelerates the narrative to tell of his capture by the Chinese, internment and Communist-consciousness-raising sessions conducted by a cool Chinese intellectual whose homiletic cadences about duty and cooperation begin to sound like Father's. He abruptly decides to voluntarily remain in China, marries Chinese May, then returns to the US, works for the CIA, writes mysteries and finally reconverts to Christianity. Throughout he dodges authorities, vulgarities, and quips his way to refuge. Heather describes this ""comical historical pastoral"" as ""a mixed style, both high and low, banal and eloquent, witty and sloppy."" He's right.