General John Forrest Murphy, World War II hero - ""to Americans he's Montgomery and Mountbatten rolled into one"" -- returns to France in 1957 to head a newly organized missile development plan for NATO. His reappearance in the country he'd helped liberate exacerbates the anti-American feelings of the Republic as the press and the people recall ""L'Affaire Boderin"", the court martial precipitated by Murphy of the revered General De Lespinasse-Boderin du Crest. Boderin, an impulsive military part-player, had sacrificed too many men for the sake of La Gloire. There are student riots as Murphy appears, instigated by those who believe the old stories that L'Affaire was a studied attempt to belittle the French people. General Boderin, who has mulled over his disgrace for 15 years, tries to ""pamphletize"" the American; his son Robert, an embittered paranoid who blames all his defeats on American ""Colonization"", plots the horsewhipping, then the slapping, and finally the assassination of the symbolic figure, Murphy. An American expatriate and an English journalist become involved in the mess through their association with Nicole, Boderin's teetering daughter. In the final phase, the pace becomes predictably melodramatic, but in the main, Harris' novel is tightly knit, intriguing stuff, with some incisive analysis of that paranoid aspect of France.