from the dust jacket of the 1982 Houghton Mifflin first edition
Here, in a marvelously gripping and rewarding novel, is the story of the tycoons who created and built the motion picture industry -- not in Hollywood, but in New York City at the turn of the century.
In particular, it is the story of Max Britsky -- born in the East Side ghetto of New York, penniless -- and of his struggle to survive and to conquer the world he had entered. It is also the story of the woman he married, of love and hate and fraud and financial piracy and infighting, of loyalty and betrayal.
In other words, it is just the kind of tale you would expect from one of the master storytellers of our time. It is not a book to be put down easily. Once you enter the world of New York at the turn of the century, the world of Rector's and Delmonico's and Boss Murphy of Tamany Hall and Monk Eastman, that king of hoodlums, you will partake of a wonderfully rewarding feast.
And you will welcome Max Britsky into the world of literary immortals. Like Dan Lavette of San Francisco, Max Britsky is a man for all seasons, and you will live with him, laugh with him, and weep with him.
The story told in this novel, the story of the creation of the film industry, an industry that changed the world, has never been told in fiction. It is one of the great stories of the twentieth century, narrated here by a man who is one of the most widely read novelists of the twentieth century. We think it is the best, the most fulfilled, of all Howard Fast's novels.