In 1819, Hypolite Bouchard, a corsair with a license from the newly independent country of Argentina to harass Spain's possessions in the New World, decided to make a raid on the California colony. At this time, Monterey had successfully survived draught, famine and the constant demands of Spain for taxes beyond her due.  The colony was probably the richest of the Alta California settlements. Knowing this, Bouchard and his men decided to strike a decisive blow for Argentina by sacking and burning Monterey.  Loot in the form of gold, jewels, and plentiful food stores would mean not only riches for himself and his  crew, but would replenish Argentina's none too lavish coffers. 

Young Miguel San Lucas Obanion y Boronda, Mike to his family and friends, is returning from the Orient with his uncle, Captain Roger Obanion of the merchant ship Boston Belle. They learn of Bouchard's plans on a stop in Hawaii and rush back to California to warn of the pirates' intent. Things go badly for the Boston Belle, though, and Mike becomes a prisoner of the pirates. Somehow, he must get free and lead a resistance against the invaders.

This book is the true but almost unknown story of Bouchard's raid on Monterey. Hypolite Bouchard was a real person, as are many of the characters in the story. Others are people who might have been. They are fictitious, though many of the names used were actually present in California at the time. But it doesn't matter. Whether real or fictitious, people like these did exist then, in a land that was almost a heaven for a few years, until trouble fell so heavily on it.