(Janet Miriam) Taylor (Holland) Caldwell Publishers Weekly - Essay

Publishers Weekly

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

No question, [Taylor Caldwell] … can tell an engrossing story. She proves it once again in ["Captains and the Kings," a] gigantic novel about the Armagh family, closest, perhaps, in structure to her first big success, "Dynasty of Death." As an Irish immigrant, Joseph Armagh arrives via steerage in the 1850s. Upon the death of both his parents, Joseph, at 13, is left with a baby sister and small brother, whom he leaves with nuns near Pittsburgh. He sets out to support them and to survive. He becomes tough, ruthless and proud, and eventually makes an immense fortune that gives him a part in international currency manipulation, in politics, and the waging of wars. Joseph marries, lovelessly, has children and ambitions for them, grooming one son for the presidency…. Through all this saga one cannot help but find some parallels with the Kennedy saga, set back to the period 1850–1915. Portraits of some characters, rather bitterly slanted, are certainly more than coincidental. Underlying the magnetic plot is the author's deeply felt view of the world's manipulation by international moneymen, the conspiracy of a few to wield power over the many, economically, politically, militarily. It is not a point of view that will please some liberals among us.

A review of "Captains and the Kings," in Publishers Weekly (reprinted from the February 14, 1972 issue of Publishers Weekly, published by R. R. Bowker Company, a Xerox company; copyright © 1972 by Xerox Corporation), Vol. 201, No. 7, February 14, 1972, p. 66.