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".
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Here, Peterson (The Immortal Dragon, 1983 - paperback) has Lyndon Johnson's personal emissary trying to get to the heart of the war in Vietnam to find out whether - and how - America can extricate itself before it is too late to avoid disaster. President Johnson can trust Bradley Marshall. A decorated veteran of the Korean War, the 42-year-old Marshall is independently wealthy, has no political ambition, and has given Johnson sound advice before. Suspicious of his generals and of the cabinet he inherited from Jack Kennedy, LBJ wants Marshall to go to Vietnam as his eyes and ears - to discover whether there's any way at all the country can back away from the war without disgracing itself or Johnson. Marshall, who wants to see the end of American involvement before his soldier son lands in the country, immediately runs afoul of the military and the CIA by insisting on an unfiltered, unedited look at the war's many fronts. Living apart from the establishment, darting from action to action, Marshall is forced to accept Marine Corporal Ron Mead as his bodyguard. Mead, close to cracking after a series of brutal enemy engagements, admires Marshall but is confused by his politics and seeks guidance from a CIA agent - unaware that the agent wants Marshall to die before he can talk the President out of the war. Marshall's hunt for the truth brings him into contact with the underworld of old Saigon, an oddly appealing ex-nun and her orphanage, and at last to a rendezvous with Corporal Mead's old outfit just as the North Vietnamese are ready to spring their surprise Tet offensive. The Johnson mandate is one of very few off-notes in a highly readable, smart, balanced war novel. (Kirkus Reviews)