This book reads a little bit like a precursor to the novels of Ayn Rand. A group of men espouse almost impossible ideals, and then try to live up to them at any cost--or in this case, kill or die for them. The title refers to a group of well educated idealists at the turn of the century who are contract murderers, but only if they agree that the murder is morally justified. A potential client visits them and offers a contract--to kill the head of their agency. Strangely, the executive, Ivan Dragomiloff, finds this to be justified, sends out the order for his own death, and then spends the rest of the book in a deadly cat-and-mouse game with the men he has trained so well. This book was made into an entertaining, but not very deep, movie, around 1970, starring Oliver Reed, Telly Savalas, and Diana Rigg.