(Janet Miriam) Taylor (Holland) Caldwell Best Sellers - Essay

Best Sellers

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Big, wordy, sprawling, ["Captains and the Kings"] is probably a thesis novel; there is some loose association with the Kennedy family, though in this instance all of the tragedy is the result of a curse imposed by a ruthlessly destroyed statesman and the time ranges from around 1860 to the second decade of this century; but the theme of an Irish immigrant, raised up to wealth by his own driving passion and bent on making his son President, is finally made secondary to the theme of an international cabal that controls the press and statesmen throughout the world, plans wars, determines international destinies. No one coming new to the book but familiar with the author will be surprised to find that the beginning of all tyranny is the income tax. It is hard to believe that anybody could take seriously the conferences of this cabal; this aspect of the work, some looseness of construction and carelessness about details—Taylor Caldwell never seems aware that the Molly Maguires were associated with anthracite coal—are harmful but many readers have worked their way through this much too long book, and doubtless many others will do so….

A review of "Captains and the Kings," in Best Sellers (copyright 1973, by the University of Scranton), Vol. 33, No. 11, September 1, 1973, p. 259.