Tediously decked with stereotypes, this belongs in The Saturday Evening Post of twenty years ago. The central situation is--will the graying old seadog of Naval Operations be able to avert the Secretary of Defense's plan to unify all the services into one service favoring the Air Force? This is the course steered by Admiral Jeffrey McCarthy from his desk, ""the mahogany battleship,"" in the Navy Department. The course veers predictably through the shoals of the Senate armed services committees past the reefs of the White House. For the President is secretly for the idea and specifically appointed Donald Burgess as Secretary of Defense to implement the brainstorm. Burgess is an IBM type raised to a certain nobility of efficiency and privately feels equal to sinking Jeff McCarthy's hidebound naval traditionalism. Jeff carries his fight to the public, meanwhile licking his wounds as a marital failure: his wife is distraught and disgusted that he has even begun to fight. But when our deskbound Farragut meets his biggest opponent, the President, she is with him. Since an admiral cannot fight the Commander-in-Chief, Jeff resigns his commission to carry on the good battle as a civilian. The novel's main issue is never resolved, but it was never alive anyway.