Just as Sherman and Lewis ease into their jobs — and into a deepening romance — a secret pressure group of military officers called the Sons of Liberty begins to carry out covert protests, symbolic at first, against White House policy. It is with shock that Lewis comes to suspect the group’s leader is his own boss and hero, General B.Z. Ames, and that the man in the center of Ames’s target is Sherman’s boss, General John Shillingworth. As the White House keeps the army grinding through a miserable third-world brushfire war, the Sons of Liberty’s activities grow more treasonous, and their efforts to avoid detection more ruthless, until Majors Sherman and Lewis find themselves in a vicious game with life-and-death stakes and the future of the American military hanging in the balance.
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Before dawn, Friday, July 8
The U.S. military is headquartered in Washington, but it is not of Washington. Its heart lies a thousand miles away, or more-in the Army, at Fort Leavenworth; in the Air Force, along a dozen different runways in the South and Southwest; in the Navy, in Norfolk, San Diego and Pearl Harbor. For most in Washington, Congress is the engine that drives daily life. When Congress is in session, there is an extra energy in Washington's downtown. When Congress is "in," people work later hours, and spouses are often missing at dinner parties. But even so, the pace is generally the pace of Congress-rising late and not engaging the world until about ten in the morning. The military sticks by its own timetable in Washington, one that pre-dates democracy. It is a schedule set on thousands of battlefields, where the most dangerous time of day is just before sunrise, when it is light enough to attack but still dark enough to conceal many movements. Even in Washington, the military rises in the darkness most of the year and is at work by dawn. The effect of this is that the military has the city largely to itself at that time of day.