This is the story of three men during a nine-year period: 1945 to 1954. One is an eighteen-year-old boy from New York who missed his chance to participate in WWII and desperately seeks adventure, wanting to leave New York where he is surrounded by his friends who served and came back to glory. The second man of this story is an eighteen-year-old survivor, a Jew from Auschwitz, who returns to his home in Poland to find nothing left. The cold war has begun and he is unable to leave because the Russians have sealed off Poland behind the Iron Curtain. The third character is a German who deserted from the German army just before the war ended. The Legion accepted many ex-Nazis in exchange for service and anonymity. The German becomes a training sergeant at the Legionas basic training center in North Africa. The three are brought together in the Legion, train together, and are sent to French Indochina (Vietnam). While in Indochina the three witness what colonialism has done to the country and what the French are up against (Ho Chi Minh). The story ends in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu, which was the final battle for the French and where they capitulated.