A fictionization, on an authentic base, of the career of Georges Ernest Boulanger, once hero and hope of the Third French Republic. His popularity as Minister of War, in 1886, united all parties, and the Boulangism movement aroused nationalistic feeling and German fears. The story of a great love which destroyed a career -- a star which set before it rose to glory, as his love for doomed Marguerite Bonnemains took precedence, he is forced from the government, deprived of his army command, missed a chance at a coup d'etat when he won his seat as deputy at the polls -- and eventually committed suicide when she died. The main story is told against sundry sub plots, especially the story of Lily, who rises from laundress to companion to Marguerite, and follower of Boulanger's downward spiral. Extensive and meticulous research somewhat overweights the movement of the story, making it a thinly fictionized study of a French hero in the political set-up of 1886 to 1891.