Only novelists can write about politics without drawing political conclusions. This novel is concerned with the situation in Viet Nam in 1963 and it manages to be competent and interesting Without taking any particular political position or presenting any special solutions. There really are no ""heroes"" in "" this story even the ""villains"" are themselves sufficiently victimized to blur the distinction between the bad and the good. The central character is Harry Coltart, an American agent whose job it is to persuade Viet Nam's mountain people (the Montagnards) to fight against Viet Cong. He succeeds in his mission because he has been able to promise, via his superior, that Ngo Dinh Diem will grant the Montagnards autonomy. But Diem and Harry's boss Englehardt are merely biding their time until Diem's government's troops can be sent into the hills. When the tribe with which Harry has made his commitments realize they have been betrayed and that Harry is only a dupe, they make alliance with the Viet Cong. Harry is saved from death in a last minute rescue but his spirit has been killed and, after the Diem regime is overthrown, he leaves Viet Nam. Smith Hempstone is able to make the tragedy and the complexities of the Viet Nam situation real to the reader without resorting to the sensationalism of the Green Berets or the sermonizing of Eugene Burdick.