cover image Memorial Bridge

Memorial Bridge

James Carroll. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $22.95 (495pp) ISBN 978-0-395-51136-7

Spanning the mid-century, from the Depression to the war in Vietnam, this earnest, weighty if sometimes slack saga of modern America features ex-seminarian Sean Dillon, working in the Chicago stockyards and studying law when he meets Cass Ryan, whose uncle has been killed by a local ward boss. Joining the FBI on graduation, Sean is instrumental in drafting the Selective Service Act, whose provisions send the ward boss to prison. As WW II begins, Sean and Cass marry and move to Washington where Sean's espionage skills earn him a military post as head of security for the newly formed Air Force. Although struggling ``to be a husband and a man both,'' as well as a father to their son, Richard, Sean becomes increasingly immersed in Pentagon politics; with the Vietnam conflict on the horizon, he is put in charge of all defense intelligence. Coming of age in the 1960s, Richard joins the peace movement, flees to Canada and is arrested on his return for violation of the act his father helped design. His son's trial affords Sean an opportunity to face his own anguish about the war. In Sean and Cass, whose traditional beliefs are challenged by events, Carroll ( Mortal Friends ; Prince of Peace ) captures a commitment to principle and fierce, bewildered bravery emblematic of a generation. Movie rights to Pacific Artists; author tour. (May)