from the dust jacket of the 1978 Houghton Mifflin first edition
With publication of The Immigrants, "a most wonderful book," according to Harlan Ellison in the Los Angeles Times, Howard Fast once again proved himself to be one of this country's most popular authors. This second volume about the fortunes of Dan Lavette, the young Italian who lost his parents but launched a stormy and brilliant career as a result of the great San Francisco earthquake, encompasses an even more dramatic sweep of history from the depression years to the close of World War II.
The central figure is Barbara Lavette, the tall beautiful daughter of Dan and his aristocratic first wife, Jean. Troubled by the conflicts of her dual inheritance and scornful of her mother's social world, Barbara sets out to build her own life in her own way -- a way that leads her to a Europe on the brink of Nazi terror, to love and tragedy, to the farthest reaches of a global war, to a deeper understanding of Dan and Jean, and ultimately to a hard-won maturity and affirmation of the goodness of life. In a novel crowded with vivid characters whose stories intertwine with hers, Barbara emerges as a person of tremendous strength and appeal.
It is the rare novelist who can create a world with such empathy and passion that the reader actually comes to share the loves and emotions of its characters. Howard Fast is one of them.