Douglas Bollinger decides to abandon his career, his girlfriend and his family to take up a new calling to join the United States Navy. Accepted at Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, Bollinger finds himself suddenly thrown into the rigorous training program required to gain his commission as a Navy Ensign. He begins the program as a lowly “Cumin” (Civilian Under Military Instruction) and undergoes a hellish first week culminating by his going through the dreaded “Maze”. The program puts to the test Bollinger’s physical, emotional and academic stamina while he suffers personal loss and tragedy and also finds himself as a witness to an unfolding political upheaval in the days before the military’s infamous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Through it all, Bollinger navigates his way through the program which is designed to winnow the field so that only the most able, capable and talented candidates successfully complete the course. Not all of his newly-found friends make it through the program and we only learn at the very end of the story whether Bollinger does, either. This novel brings to life a short period of time in recent military history and how it impacted one young man.