A Time of War

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9780671683030: A Time of War

The realities of a futile campaign are portrayed in this novel of the Vietnam War. The action ranges from the White House to the jungle, from the American Embassy in Saigon to the front lines. Michael Peterson has also written "The Immortal Dragon." If you're looking for a Vietnam War novel, but you don't want to wade in too deep, this is perfect lightweight fare. Think of it as a cross between Tom Clancy and Graham Greene (see Orrin's review of The Quiet American)with the civil servant as superhero trying to navigate a moral cesspool. Bradley Lawrence Marshall is the blue blood, war hero, diplomat who is sent to Vietnam as the personal emissary of President Johnson, to find a way out. In country, he meets with real figures like General Westmoreland, who tries to convince him everything is copacetic. But he also meets folks like: his driver, Corporal Mead, a decent though violent American lad of ambiguous sexuality, who is sick of the war; Lacouture, a flamboyant, Guy Burgess-like, Frenchman who sells information to all sides and loves Mead; and the insidious CIA station chief, Wilson Abbot Lord, who lives to fight the Communists and, fearing that Marshall will end the war, plots to kill him. And it's all set against the backdrop of the Tet Offensive. The whole premise, of Johnson and a bureaucrat secretly planning an exit strategy, doesn't withstand much scrutiny and the stereotypes and clichs run rampant. But taken on its own terms, as a sort of politico-military potboiler with only mild pretensions of addressing issues in any serious way, it succeeds pretty well. It's certainly a more diverting read than many of the more critically acclaimed novels of the war.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Written by a former Marine lieutenant, this sprawling drama of the Vietnam war has all the elements of a TV miniseries--lush settings, sexy characters, high-level cloak-and-dagger espionage and acts of personal bravery. Bradley Marshall is Lyndon Johnson's personal ambassador to Vietnam, whose attempts to end the war through secret negotiations with the North Vietnamese are opposed by high-level CIA operatives within the U.S. Embassy. Marshall's bodyguard, true-blue Lt. Ron Mead, is forced to terminate his romance with a 17-year-old prostitute when a CIA agent instructs him to establish a homosexual liaison with a decadent French spy. Meanwhile, Mead's company in Khe Sanh struggles to survive the North Vietnamese onslaught and the almost nonsensical orders of its own commanding officers. Peterson adroitly evokes embassy intrigue and his battle scenes are immediate and compelling. Some readers may be taken aback by the powerful, troubled current of sexuality, however: erotic hero-worship alternates with cartoonish views of homosexuality; rape, whoring and pornography are presented as GI staples; sex and violence are always linked. Though the story at times reads like potboiler melodrama, Peterson constructs an elaborate, absorbing and viscerally affecting narrative. Major ad/promo; Literary Guild, Doubleday and Military Book Club alternates.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

"Despite a decidedly slick texture, the book succeeds on the basis of pure story, meticulous plot, and the sincere, conscientious rendition of honorable intent in both the war's supporters and detractors," said LJ's reviewer at this book's debut (LJ 1/90). This Vietnam War story draws on Peterson's own experiences as a marine. Order Stealth titles online at www.stealthpress.com.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Published by Pocket Books (1990)
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