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The McCarrans and the Gallaghers, two families with deep ties to the military, have been close for decades, ever since Anthony McCarran – now one of the army's most distinguished generals – became best friends with Jack Gallagher, his fellow West Pointer who was later killed in Vietnam.
Now a new generation of soldiers is fighting on a distant battlefield, and Lt. Brian McCarran, the general's son, has recently returned from a harrowing tour in Iraq.
Traumatized by his war-time experiences, Brian depends on his lifelong friendship with Kate Gallagher, Jack Gallagher's daughter, who also happens to be married to Brian's commanding officer in Iraq, Capt. Joe D'Abruzzo.
But Kate is dealing with trauma of her own: since coming home, D'Abruzzo seems a changed man, and lately he's become paranoid and abusive.
Tragedy strikes when Brian shoots and kills D'Abruzzo on their army post in Virginia. Brian immediately confesses but claims self-defense – D'Abruzzo, a black-belt martial artist, came to his quarters, accused him of having an affair with Kate, and attacked him.
Or so Brian says, and now Capt. Paul Terry, one of the army's most accomplished young lawyers, will defend him in a high-profile court martial. Assisting Terry is Meg McCarran, Brian's sister, a brilliant and beautiful attorney who leaves her practice in California to dedicate herself to saving her brother.
Before the case is over, Terry will learn that families, like war, can break the sturdiest of souls.