The young, high life of ""Josh"" Millar, a well-born Scot with a Masterpiece-Theater complement of toney acquaintances and idiosyncratic kin, a strong streak of daring, a full measure of prewar British aplomb--and ultimately, in the maquis, a Mission. But under the easy manner is a fierce resolve. When he is four, Millar's beloved dog is peremptorily ""put away""--necessitating his removal from the scene (and from home) for a year. At twelve, he staves off a dreaded boarding-school hazing by kicking his chief tormentor ""with all my strength. . . in the testicles."" He is friendless thereafter, but not unhappy. A stay, at 18, with an equivocal, unnerving French family brings his first, brief, to-be-continued affair--with an older French woman whom he shortly sees, by chance, naked with another man. He takes up tennis and flying and other older women; puts in a stint, arranged by his worried mother, on a Glasgow newspaper--which to his surprise, he takes to; chucks it for a berth on a ship; meets headstrong Eliza--whom he'll marry; gets a toehold on Fleet Street by getting aboard the Prince of Wales' yacht, on the eve of Edward's notorious cruise with Wallis Simpson; establishes himself with Lord Beaverbrook; and goes to Paris for the Daily Express--at the onset of war. The frenetic pace is checked only by some sharp comments on newspapering and some personal strains--with Eliza, among others; but even the cameo appearances register. And Millar's London base is the Cavendish, where Rosa Lewis is a shrewd, fast friend. Still, it's not until well into Millar's war experiences that events coalesce. Millar enlists in a Highland regiment (and thrives); is captured (ruefully) in the desert; escapes from a prisoner-of-war camp (which he'd enjoyed); and in the course of making his way through France, encounters the smart, tough peasants who determine him, once back in England, to join the British unit aiding the Resistance--as secret agent/organizer and instructor in sabotage. Millar spent only three months with the Vieilly maquis, but in his mind he is still ""Emile,"" still exhilarated by the camaraderie, the hair's-breadth calculation, the very topography of ""his"" French villages. Light or serious, a spanking story.