1930S America was in the depths of the great worldwide depression. A rich young man, educated in the radical mix of the University of Chicago, joins with a group of young communists who want to abet the struggle for union rights in the emerging labor union movement. They are in the thick of the physcial and economic struggle when Rick shoots several strikebreakers who are beating some unarmed strikers. His group aids him in his escape to South America and then to Berlin. There he becomes involved in the political intrigues that led to World War II. He accompanies a strange little man to Zurich where he meets "The Fat Man," a worldly wise amoral adventurer who has developed a scheme for running guns for Emperor Haile Selaisse of Ethiopia in his struggle againts Mussolini's fascist dreams of a new Rome. On arrival Rick sees quickly the futility of the scheme which rapidly unravels. The group escape from Ethiopia, scatters, and he goes to Spain. There he joins the International Brigades who are fighting General Franco's fascists. Soviet intrigues, espionage, and betrayals cause him to flee to Paris. There he meets a mysterious young woman and falls in love. His happiness is interrupted by the approaching Nazi Wehrmacht.