A leisurely pace adheres in this novel of national and personal sentiment despite the time limit set by the fatal ailment of the narrator. Fighting against the deadline predicated by Hodgkins disease, Englishman Richard Martin is determined to set down the story of his opposite number and German contemporary, Udo von Effling. Richard is from a monied, landed, Conservative background; Udo's father rode with the Kustrin Hussars in the great Prussian army tradition. The German defeat and Ulrich von Effling's death in 1918 leave Udo rootless in a country that looks to new leaders for a return to greatness. Udo turns to National Socialism, becomes a Nazi, a favored S.S. officer with close ties to the leaders of the regime and vanguard assignments in Austria and Czechoslovakia. In pursuing his ambition, he estranges his liberal mother and loses his British wife to a patriotically induced suicide. Ever the opportunist, Udo sheds a second wife of Nazi rigins when the war is closing and marries the daughter of the industrialist in whose employ he gains prominence. By the novel's end, he has emerged as a force in the economy and Adenauer's government. The author, working from his own first hand experience as a London Times-man in Berlin at the outbreak of World War II, writes with a cool perception of the internecine and international conflicts and atmosphere of the time. He delivers his story in a low voice that conveys his message without dynamism, as revelatory reminiscence, rather, and with a quiet, even comfortable, interest.