From family life in a coal mining village to political intrigue in the city, the story moves through the industrial turmoil of the late 1940's to highly placed crime and corruption in the 1950's. At home, Gordon and Grace face struggle and tragedy. In the city, their two sons attain high office: Bruce, an ambitious union leader, attempts to suck his idealistic brother into his political game. William moves against him, supported by his mother's guidance and the love of the beautiful Ellen. His attempts to confront organised crime are met with resistance and violence and he is forced to take dramatic action to save himself and his family.