Children of Power

Children of Power

a novel

by Susan Richards Shreve

"Susan Shreve's Children of Power is a fine and rare novel, both readable and complicated, wise and deep and fast-moving; this novel's imaginative use of the hatred and suspicion inspired by Joe McCarthy's Washington is brilliant, but family lives—love and disappointment—are the book's true subject. Children of Power is an ambitious novel, both personal and broad."—John Irving

"Susan Shreve understands America's 'children of power' more intimately thatn does any other writer I've read, and she explores their lives open-heartedly, justly, in a richly plotted, people-crowded novel not soon to be forgotten. Her touch grows more sure with every book she writes. I'm expecting wonderful things from her."—John Gardner

"Without condescension or simplification, Susan Shreve reveals the lives and pains of youngsters growing up in the artificial milieu of our nation's capitol. It is a fine book: an adult novel about children, a children's novel for adults."—Tim O'Brien


Children of Power is a profoundly moving evocation of a family in a troubled time. It is set during a week in December 1954 after the Senate’s censuring of Joseph McCarthy when the nation was reeling from the resultant acrimony. At the center of the story is Samuel Taylor, Chairman of the FCC, husband and father, and one of the few spokesmen against the public McCarthy.


Sam Taylor bought the house on Highland Place in 1947 when he first moved to Washington from Wisconsin. It was a Victorian clapboard farmhouse, painted white, with turrets and stained glass windows, built by Senator Percy from Rhode Island the same year that ground was broken for the cathedral, half a mile up the road. Senator Percy had died there although he had intended to return to Rhode Island in hi retirement, and the house went to a Supreme Court justice who was robbed and beaten one September afternoon on his own front steps. An actress whose name did not survive except on the deed lived there with her companion in the thirties and sold the house to one of Roosevelt’s people, a Jew, who was the first Jew to buy a house on Highland Place. He was an intellectual man with an accent, the neighbors said. His family was German. Shortly after the end of the war, he died unexpectedly and this widow sold the house to Sam Taylor.

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