I found this book to be a bit of a political eye-opener. The theme is democracy, viewed from many angles. The timeline is primarily during the Vietnam years and centers on an American family of businessmen and politicians. The novel is more about what Didion sees as the corruptive nature of public service itself. She maintains that ''the assistance effort'' in Vietnam to be ''a specifically commercial enterprise'' and is concerned with ''the whole skein of threads necessary to transfer the phantom business predicated on the perpetuation of the assistance effort.' I would recommend this book for readers who are interested in the late `60's early `70's era in America.