When 1964 University City graduate and teenage loner, JR Spears, enlists to fight in Vietnam for the noblest of reasons, he begins a journey that takes him from committed warrior to reluctant soldier to underground antiwar leader. Confronted by a conflict they increasingly find abhorrent and unjust, Spears and a small cadre of comrades conspire, with both commitment and foreboding, to stage a helicopter crash, fake their deaths, and surreptitiously return to the states to join the protest movement.
These deserters are not the only ones who risk their lives and personal freedom or whose families are ravaged by the war. When Maggie Blessing's brother is killed in action, she runs away from home to join the antiwar movement, leaving her mourning parents. John Muccelli, Spears's high school classmate, fulfills his lifelong dream of becoming an FBI agent, only to be conflicted by the illegal tactics he is ordered to use to hunt down protest instigators. Bernice Williams, Maggie's mentor and lover, turns from influential antiwar leader to zealous bomber to victim of her own fanaticism. The war, the protests, these characters, and the soul of a nation converge in the supercharged 1960s and 1970s environment of the Bay Area.