There is a bitter quality of authenticity in this inside story of how communism functions, its puppets and satellites destructively tunnelling through American life. Here are no patterns of giant political conspiracy, but the little ways in which little men are enmeshed. The story opens with Ed, convicted, of treason to the cause, waiting for resoue from execution at the hands of his idol, Fichte, who had rescued him before. The story ends with the death of Ed, convicted by Fichte- and by Ann too, Ann who had been responsible for his resignation from the Party which had given him life- and bought his manhood. The irony of the title is not at first evident. The reader, with Ed, sees the leaders as ""tender men"", compassionate towards the down and outers, and then learns, with Ed, that while they seem to yield, it is only to demand the utmost in payment- loyalty to the party, the cause, even if it means betrayal of the goals of reform.