Forced to leave Ireland during the potato famine of 1830s, Danny and Brian Callahan come to New Orleans in answer to a flier calling for diggers for a grand canal. The fliers promise work, free passage, and free room and board on arrival, but say nothing of the heat, the mosquitoes, or the annual Yellow Fever epidemics. In the new world, the brothers suffer through their early years, but in time leave their back-breaking jobs and follow different paths on their way to a better life. Danny, quick-witted, living a life based on integrity, becomes a merchant, and seems a natural for city politics, while Brian finds his fame as the owner of the city’s biggest barroom and brothel. In a clash of Irish wills, Danny must find a way to crush his infamous brother, always with the help and support of his childhood sweetheart.