Even the Germans who are antagonistic to Krupp are up in arms about Manchester's book which tells presumably all-from the first Krupp (circa 1500) "a shrewd chandler with a keen eye for the main chance," through the family's incarnation by the sixth generation as "Essen's uncrowned kings," to the powerful weapons empire that armed Germany for three major wars, and finally the dissolution of die Firma. Manchester slants his story; in this case, the Krupps are all malevolent. The "killing power" of the kruppsche wares (cannon, howitzers, batteries, finally, nuclear power) was unrivaled as early as 1880, and in Manchester's view their product suited the family's temperament. He does differentiate between the various Alfreds, Alfrieds, and Berthas--but shows every member with some unfortunate trait. Their way of life is "secretive," their huge empire "international," their tendency is toward cartels, and their appearance is "vulpine." The foxy family's most "phenomenal" habit, however, was that "of matching the Teuton mood" --i.e. they were nationalistic, Francophile, or severely militaristic when Germany adopted these stances. But Manchester doesn't quite make it clear whether he is charging them with fierce patriotism or whoring. The Book is the December Literary Guild selection, but one wonders how many readers will get through the nearly 1000 pages which alternate between pedantry and appropriately leaden prose.