A BITTER PEACE by Michael Peterson


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In a sequel to A Time of War (1990), former LBJ emissary Bradley Marshall takes on a diplomatic chore for Nixon: trying to persuade the South Vietnamese to sign a peace treaty that sells them out. Marshall's the right choice for this miserable job because the South Vietnamese trust him. He has hardly landed in Saigon, however, when he learns of a highly placed North Vietnamese defector who has a copy of General Giap's plan to invade the South immediately after the accord is signed. Such a plan will surely scuttle the treaty and also jeopardize the one remaining American interest: release of the POWs. In moral agony, Marshall proceeds to make contact with the defector--as does his old nemesis, CIA operative Wilson Lord. All bets are off, though, when the defector is killed; in the action, a young Marine officer, Luke Bishop, is seriously wounded. In Marshall's haste to get Bishop to a hospital, his car runs down a toddler, the only daughter of an old Chinese, Chien Lin Huong, who has been an American ally. Next scene: six years later, and Jimmy Carter sends Marshall on another impossible mission, this time to Paris to make peace with the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini, since Carter knows the Shah is about to fall. Marshall brings along Ron Mean, his bodyguard from A Time of War, as well as the recovered Bishop--and the two are soon fending off the obsessed Huong, who lost his fortune, his wife, and his mother to the Communists, and who now blames Marshall. Enter Wilson Lord once again, combatting the fuzzy liberal thinking of Carter and his emissary, enlisting Huong in a plot to assassinate Marshall and thereby block rapprochement with the Ayatollah. Peterson's presidents never come alive, but his politics are shrewd and he spins a fine intrigue: Herman Wouk, say, by way of William F. Buckley.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1996
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Pocket