Full bodied historical romance, in a story which brackets a generation of unease in Mexico, beginning with the Mexican Wars which reached a measure of settlement with the defeat of Santa Anna, but left a soar of bitterness and hate against the United States, and ending with the death of the ill-starred Austrian Emperor, Maximilian. The story is told through the experiences of Martin Ravenel, whose life became strangely identified with Mexico's fate, from the time of his escape from the bloody Santa Anna, to whom his father's life was forfeit, solely because he was an American, to his long period of idealistic service in a futile cause, the chance of freedom for the Mexican peon. Martin learned to know and love the Mexicans through his guide, Mariano. Later, when he was grown up, he planned to return to New Orleans to enlist in the forces of the Confederacy, from his exile in England, and Sliddell commandeered his services as a diplomat in the cause of the Confederacy, in Paris, there to win the backing of the French, and if possible their intervention in Mexico in order to open up passage of arms. Martin, naively credulous of motives, becomes a tool in the hands of cleverer plotters than he- and loses his heart to the sultry ""Amanda Garnet"", who turns out to be a Mexican spy, unalterably opposed to the foreign occupation of her native soil. She puts Mexico above her personal life- denies her own passions- betrays Martin again and again to block his operations- and only at the very close, when the full price is paid, acknowledges her love....The story is overcrowded, the canvas too broad, the emotions too surface charged for reality; the characters are stock characters. But the author does succeed in taking the reader behind the scenes for the manipulation of the puppets of fortune. Not as freshly conceived a novel as his first, Drums of Destiny, though perhaps a better written book.