Mercer in this first novel since The Drummond Tradition shows a marked improvement in taking hold of his material and weaving it into a durable fabric. But he still spins out too thin the substance from which his pattern derives. For those who read Chidsey's Valley Forge (see report p. 337) with interest, one major part of this story of a segment of the American Revolution will seem like a fictionization of a meticulously detailed factual report. But the story in this instance stems back to the years leading up to 1776 -- and goes beyond the abortive Battle of Monmouth to the dreary period of waiting, marching, camping, counter-marching, and waiting again- for the French who had promised to come. This provides the setting for a story of Alex March, Philadelphia lawyer and patriot, of his marriage to the selfish Kathie, whose father shifted with the winds, his one goal to make his fortune; of Micah Heath, bound boy, who went back to Kathie's father who had held his papers, and brought east from the Ohio frontier two children; of Philly, one of the children, who grows up, a bound girl, servant to Kathie, and whom both Micah and Alex loved. And chiefly it is the story of how the goal of Liberty molded the patterns of their lives -- and held Micah and Alex to a cause that seemed destined to failure, as the long retreat -- the incessant desertions -- the friction in the officer ranks -- and Washington's apparent inability to come to grips with the situation, took the heart out of both men. At many points this story follows the line of John Brick's The Strong Men (see report p. 614) in the Valley Forge phase and the analysis of the errors that brought Monmouth to its inglorious end. But the span of the war is greater here- and the characters perhaps more sympathetically drawn.