It's the beginning of the 20th century and Jack Bevins, a muckracking American reporter, is prying into Britain's official secrets for newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. Signaling the onset of the great 20th century arms race, the new British battleship Dreadnought will be the most powerful weapon ever created. Hearst will use Dreadnought's awesome design to goad President Teddy Roosevelt toward modernizing America's navy, but first Jack has to beat Britain's imperial rivals, especially Germany, to the plans.
Aided by a dubious street urchin, Jack sets out to breach the security of the Porstmouth, England, shipyard where Dreadnought is being built, but his path to the prize is anything but straight. A junior member of the British parliament, Winston Churchill, keeps cropping up, while a woman with a shadowy past becomes the focus of disturbing events that reach high into the government. When the British discover Dreadnought's security has been compromised, they react with a vengeance that puts more than Jack's visitor status in jeopardy. He races desperately to discover the truth, with more at stake than he had ever imagined.