Written in the first person, this is a first novel relating the Army experiences of Herman Wakely. Wake enlisted at 17 to take advantage of the G.I. Bill of Rights, spent the years 1946-49 with the Occupation in Japan and left when he had almost decided to join the Regular Army. His recollections are a series of sketches and portraits: his training as an M.P. and the essential cultivation of swagger; the near riot during Passover when the Jewish soldiers were excused from duty; the overly conscientious behavior of an aspiring ministry student; Witte, the ex-miner whose object in life was just to look around and who tried to teach Wake not to put his faith in people; his Dear John letter and his attempt to convince himself that he was heartbroken because he felt that he should be; his promotion to operations sergeant and the subsequent shady deals which he handled for almost everyone who had something to trade; Captain O'Rourke who knew all the answers, played all the angles and told Wake a thing or two about life. It was after his friend Dillaou killed his unfaithful Japanese mistress and himself that Wake decided the Army was not for him. He emerged with some unhappy insights and the knowledge that people were neither good nor bad but a mixture of the two. Variously humorous, pathetic, touching, this is accompanied by the inevitable barracks bluster.