(Janet Miriam) Taylor (Holland) Caldwell Richard A. Cordell - Essay

Richard A. Cordell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["Dynasty of Death" and its recently-published sequel, "The Eagles Gather,"] have the same theine—the titanic struggle between ruthlessness, greed, opportunism, selfishness, and dishonesty on the one side (the munitions barons blandly lump together all such practices as "realism"), and altruism, justice, love, and self-sacrifice on the other side. The victor in this internecine war is not announced, for the war is still raging—perhaps more fiercely today than ever before.

"The Eagles Gather" is a depressing, almost terrifying book. It hurls formidable charges against the powers of evil that shape our personal and national destinies, and although the book is fiction, its insinuations and implications are disturbing and sometimes alarming….

Under the impact of these allegations we find difficulty in responding always to the deep human demands of the story, but human interest is here. For these men of greed, these "realists," do not hesitate to sacrifice friends, brothers, children, and parents in their ruthless battle for power. The various narratives of the novel deal with death-struggles between Machiavellism and human decency. Although the author is not an absolute cynic, she is no facile optimist, and to resolve these conflicts she does not conjure up the comfortable old saw that right makes might.

One fault of the novel, less annoying than in "Dynasty of Death," is the confusing legion of characters…. The author does not exercise her artist's privilege to select, but presents to us in detail, often amusing, the whole clan. Possibly, too, the novel is weakened by a glut of guile and hate. Nearly everyone loathes and despises nearly all the other members of the family—brothers hate brothers, parents and children abominate one another—there is hardly a page which does not contain "hate" or "detest" or "nauseate" or "despise" or some such ill-tempered verb. Everything considered, "The Eagles Gather" is a full-blooded book, provocative and haunting.

Richard A. Cordell, "War of the Vultures," in The Saturday Review of Literature (© 1940, copyright renewed © 1967, Saturday Review Magazine Co.; reprinted by permission), Vol. XXI, No. 11, January 6, 1940, p. 5.