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From the Boer War through World War II, a soldier rises through the ranks in the British military.

The setting is 1943 Britain. Major General Clive Wynne-Candy, a forty year military officer, is seen by some of his younger eager officers as an old, soft, pudgy man with a ridiculous mustache, he who has outdated ideas of what is required to win the war. But they have no idea of his background and military history, which shaped his outlook and the man he is today, including why he wears a mustache. This history includes a diplomatic row in Berlin over the German view of the British military in the Boer War, his time in the front lines in France during WWI and what he believes was the reason for the end of that war, and his need to reinvent himself over the course of WWII. He is also shaped by his friendship with four specific people, one being Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff, a German officer with whom he had an inauspicious inaugural meeting in 1902. The other three are the significant women of his life: Berlin based English schoolteacher Edith Hunter, Red Cross nurse Barbara Wynne, and Angela "Johnny" Cannon, his personal driver during WWII.


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