Books: Gunpowder Plots

DYNASTY or DEATH—Taylor Caldwell—Scribner ($2.75).

George and Joseph Barbour were English-born brothers who, in a Pennsylvania industrial town in 1837, formed a partnership for the manufacture of gunpowder. As they shook hands on their bargain, a storm broke and ''there came such a flare of lightning, such a bellow of thunder, that the very earth shuddered. . . ." This was not the only occasion on which the heavens collaborated in the Barbours' emotional crises. Through the 797 pages of Dynasty of Death, a novel recounting their rise to the ranks of great munitions makers, drenching rains accompany the partings of lovers,...