(Janet Miriam) Taylor (Holland) Caldwell Harold Strauss - Essay

Harold Strauss

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["The Eagles Gather"] continues the saga of the Bouchard family, the great armaments clan whose fortunes were first set forth in "Dynasty of Death." The Bouchards are ruthless, self-willed men, and their women are pawns of their overweening lust for power. One recalls how, in the earlier novel, the Bouchards together with the Barbours founded a small powder and arms factory in Pennsylvania in the middle of the last century. One recalls how they gradually outstripped and exterminated their competitors, how they created a gigantic munitions monopoly with interests extending into affiliated industries, and how these merchants of death learned to manipulate public opinion and to provoke wars when business was dull….

Tradition is a powerful motor force in human behavior. When we first met the Bouchards they seemed shocking and unreal. It was difficult to accustom oneself to the irresponsible violence and unmotivated hatreds with which "Dynasty of Death" was peppered. But now violence and treachery have come to have the force of tradition in the Bouchard family, and one accepts their monstrous behavior with more credence. By that measure "The Eagles Gather" … emerges as a much stronger book than its predecessor. We might also add that its narrative has much more unity, and its drama is much more concentrated. "Dynasty of Death" spread out from 1837 to 1910, and its texture, for all its 400,000 words, seemed a little thin. The new novel...

(The entire section is 468 words.)