A nuclear exchange occurs between several African countries. As a result, much of the continent is rendered uninhabitable, and vast numbers of refugees are forced to flee. Around two million of them end up in the UK, which by an unfortunate twist of fate has just elected a xenophobic right wing government led by John Tregarth. The result is a civil war between the government, a more liberal faction who support integrating the refugees, and the refugees themselves. The story is told from the point of view of Alan Whitman, a former university lecturer who is forced to flee his home with his wife and daughter after his neighbourhood is forcibly displaced by Africans.
Tropes featured in this work include:
- Beige Prose: Whitman's detached tone leads to this.
- Cozy Catastrophe: Averted. Britain ravaged by civil war does not look like a nice place at all.
- Future Slang: The African refugees are called "Afrims" for reasons that aren't made clear in the book.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Prime Minister Tregarth seems to have been modelled after Enoch Powell.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Whitman appears to be preparing for this at the end.
- Scary Black Man: The Afrims come across this way.
- The Stoic: Whitman, to an almost Meursault-like level. Broken (slightly) when he learns the fate of his wife and daughter.
- Where Da White Women At?: in the 1972 edition at least.