Petr Vlach, son of a wealthy Czech businessman, has been sent to Slovakia during the first days of Czechoslovak independence to fight against the Hungarian threat. After military victory, the patriotic Petr then goes to Prague where President Masaryk awards him a military medal. Petr meets a Slovak girl, Ivana, whom he marries.
However, the honeymoon period is quickly over. The story then plots the gradual demise of Petr as the world around him falls into chaos. Hitler's intervention in 1938 spells the end of Petr's ambitions, but marks the beginning of the ascent of his rebellious socialist son, Marek. Just as Marek achieves a meteoric rise within the Communist party by the 1960s, so his son then turns against his father and what he stands for.
The dénouement takes place during the 1989 'Velvet Revolution', when all three main protagonists - Petr, Marek and Stan - face each other in a tense stand-off. Can the Vlachs be reconciled?
This is a pacey story of the lives of three generations of a family in a country that experienced wild swings in its fortunes.