This overwrought saga of the Du Pont family is a romantic evocation of one of the least romantic periods of modern historythe Gilded Age at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, during which American big business came of age. Alfred Irenee du Pont, great-grandson of the legendary Irenee who founded the company during the Revolutionary War era, finds himself excluded from the levers of power in the company, which, he comes to believe, should be his to hold. Management of the firm has fallen into the hands of an intermediate generation that lacks vision and, indeed, even the will to preserve the company as an independent entity. In the end, Alfred and his cousins Coleman and Pierre engineer a cashless buyout of the old family management that has a decidedly late-1980s flavor. The focus of the novel is not on the evolution of a blue-chip chemical corporation from a family-owned gunpowder business, howeverrather, it's on the mutual loves and hates of the intensively ramified Du Pont clan, and the result is a sort of Wilmington, Del., Dallas . Rowe ( Brandywine , Dominion ) misses the point and the excitement of the real Du Ponts' lives and achievements, instead concocting an entertaining soap opera using the Du Ponts as stock characters. (September)
Rowe's continuation of the saga of the du Pont family begun in Brandywine and Dominion covers the era of Alfred I.E. du Pont's coming of age. After both parents die in 1877, Alfred and his siblings stand firm as a family rather than allowing themselves to be parceled out to various relatives. Alfred's branch of the family has been running the gunpowder works on the Brandywine in Delaware. Power struggles within the family and his father's early death seem destined to cheat Alfred of his legacy, but his talent, drive, and association with two of his cousins lead to his triumphant takeover of the business. Entertaining historical fiction about explosives in business and family life. Allayne C. Heyduk, Riverside Sch . , Oneonta, N.Y.