No pony- and pig-tailed adventure this time, but a scenic and considered account rendered of several conflicts based in the mountains of Kurdistan where the Kurds have always been victimized by the factious interests of Iraq, Persia and Turkey. MacGregor, a petroleum geologist, withdrawn by nature and still more so by circumstance, commits himself to the natives and their flickering attempt to achieve some sort of national unity. But he is forced to leave there by his wife who finds them all a murderous lot and loathes the ""anarchic, stupid, oriental mess."" When back in Paris -- an attractive montage in spite of the student unrest -- MacGregor feels disconnected and displaced, continues to try to trace some vanished Kurdish funds, and ultimately returns to the mountains alone to die with the ""enormous inconclusions"" of his life, his convictions and his times. Although a traditional writer, Aldridge sidesteps overfamiliarity and achieves both momentum and a sympathetic cogency.