(Janet Miriam) Taylor (Holland) Caldwell Clifton Fadiman - Essay

Clifton Fadiman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Taylor Caldwell's "Dynasty of Death" succeeded in making munitions manufacturers seem considerably more dramatic than they probably are in actuality. "The Eagles Gather," a sequel, is more of the same, only not as good. For one thing, perhaps Taylor Caldwell can keep her Bouchards clear and separate, but there are just too many of them for this simple mind. After a while you lose count, and after you lose count you lose interest. As a matter of fact, I think I lost interest before I lost count, because the characterization in "The Eagles Gather" is so definitely melodramatic that it makes the whole long, crowded, and painstaking narrative a bit unconvincing. Also, while I'm perfectly willing to credit anything evil I read about munitions people, I cannot believe that they alone manipulate history, start and stop wars, plan in advance what we shall think, etc. They're powerful, no doubt, but they're not gods. The view of current history on which "The Eagles Gather" is based seems to me rather too simplified.

Those who like complicated family chronicles with a raft of sinister villains will, I think, take to Taylor Caldwell's latest installment of Bouchards. My own feeling is that her message could have been projected in half the length and with half the characters. The book would have been about twice as effective, too. (pp. 52-3)

Clifton Fadiman, "Three Novels" (copyright © 1940 by The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.; copyright renewed © 1969 by The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.; reprinted by permission of Lescher & Lescher, Ltd., as literary agents for the author), in The New Yorker, Vol. XV, No. 47, January 6, 1940, pp. 52-3.∗