The friendship of four midshipmen who came together at Annapolis and were split apart by this war with Mexico"" (1846) is remembered a year or so later by Jason Plowright while a prisoner of the enemy, and continues after his escape. There is Ashley Carter, whose glib tongue could get them out of almost any scrape--or into another; Endicott Beecher (""Beaver,"" because he worked like one), a first class thinker whose Transcendentalist parents introduced him to the works of Thoreau and Emerson; Monroe (for the Doctrine) Bradshaw, with an ""on to anywhere"" attitude; and Jay himself, as personable as any of them and able to recall that year-plus with gusto. ""The Saints"" (because they live in the A-B, or Abbey) get special dispensation from the local restaurant and pull better-than-average pranks during the two terms before they split to go off to war with Mexico. The sense of roundtable jocularity and good will is contagious and the reader easily falls in with such agreeable company--and so is vulnerable to their subsequent changes in fortune. Toward the end (which includes several bloody scenes) a former classmate with a giant grudge almost gets revenge but even that near-contrivance is forestalled by a more acceptable solution. There's a wonderful young Mexican patriot who has to recognize Norteamericano Jason as his brother-in-law and several variously endowed females who add a shine (and may attract girls). Stick around when this ship comes in.