The Lionheads -- Bunting's first novel about Vietnam was midway between a military account and a statement; here, while making another kind of commentary, he has greatly advanced the craft of telling a story through the medium of characters created for that purpose and wonderfully assorted and staged mises-en-scene. On the one hand this is all about the flawed, close to failed, marriage of Mark and Marjorie Adams -- now in its ninth year. Mark and Marjorie are both decent if increasingly uncertain products of what will be later called by his adversary-competitor (for Marjorie) ""the great pampered liberal Eastern Establishment."" Marjorie (perhaps as hard for the reader to explain as Mark to understand) was apparently serene and passionate, only later to show herself capable of the most unpredictable and inscrutable behavior (she occasions some very funny scenes). But somewhere along the line, particularly after time spent on a South Dakota Army Post ""the depletion of love came slowly and unremarked."" Now in England where Mark is doing some research on a long forgotten English general, there will be a more direct assault on their marriage via Frederick Giles, another and anything but quiet American, staying in their hotel -- a boor and a slob and a shit who's done his ""trigger time"" which makes it possible for him to air his rigid conservatism and who for some reason (""moxie"") attracts Marjorie. What Bunting is really talking about through Giles -- through Marjorie's father, another limited, brutal man -- through a fellow officer shooting down some natives of undetermined affiliation in Vietnam -- is not only the philistinism but cryptofascism everywhere which makes its endemic appearances in people and countries. Except England -- apparently there'll always be an England to Mark and Bunting a bright, funny, decisive writer committed to more than just his considerable talent.