Arthur Hirschman is a talented and ambitious young professor of politics at Mead College in New England, specializing in Japanese government. His graduate school colleague, Victor Malinowski, now an analyst at the National Security Council, persuades Arthur to go to Tokyo to find out who may be collaborating with Sewall Travers, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, to secretly provide advanced aircraft and tactical nuclear weapons to the Japanese self-defense forces. Travers in convinced this step will ultimately lead to the destruction of the network of military alliances around the world, freeing the United States to establish a secure conservative culture in Fortress America. The President is dying, the Vice President resigns under a cloud, and Travers believes he will succeed to the highest office in the land. All the elements of an international and constitutional crisis are present as the story hurtles forward in Tokyo and Washington.