Marshall Pearl is orphaned at birth aboard an illegal immigrant ship off the coast of Palestine in 1947 and brought as an infant to America. Determined to see the world in its beauty, ferocity, and ultimate justice, he does so, in scenes of gorgeous color and great excitement, as a child in the Hudson Valley, fighting the Rastafarians in Jamaica, at Harvard, in a slaughterhouse on the Great Plains, in the Mexican desert, on the sea, and in the Alps. Finally, he is drawn to Israel to confront the logic of his birth in a crucible of war, magic, suffering, and grace. At the opening of the book, he is one of the dying wounded being transported to Haifa during the 1973 War. We follow him as he dreams, reconstructing his life, until, by the strength of what he has learned, suffered, and hoped, Marshall Pearl rises.
Any outstanding claim then, by readers or writers, that the ancient form of the story itself - the realistic story - is sclerotic or enfeebled must take account of this collection. Mark Helprin's young intelligence and the courage of his ventures, is formidable proof of adamant life. -- New York Times