The war's over, but kids are still fighting the enemy - until a soldier returns home and suddenly there's real-life danger, and real tragedy.
On the wasteland between their houses, Terry Webb and his mates are battling the Nazzies and Nips, inflamed by the Movietone News at the Saturday matinee, the exploits of Hollywood tough guys and the tales of brothers and dads and uncles who fought for their country. But in the 1950s, Britain is struggling to emerge from beneath the long shadow left in the wake of the Second World War. Life is all rationing, 'make-do-and-mend', deprivation and poverty, especially in the Northern cotton towns.
As far as the boys are concerned it's all just a bit of fun, just like their opportunistic fumblings and increasing interest in girls - until Terry's favourite uncle, a Desert Rat, comes home, bearing all the scars of Monty's North Africa campaign and bringing a piece of the war back with him.
And suddenly for Terry, life's no longer a game, but there's real-life danger - and real-life tragedy . . .
The past is truly is a foreign country in this coming-of-age novel based on Trevor Hoyle's short story, the winner of the Transatlantic Review short story competition, evoking the joys, frustrations, injustices, excitement, battles, discoveries and bloody-minded wonder of a boy slowly learning to become a man.