STIGMA by Williams Forrest


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The good of the individual vs the common good is the theme of this fast-moving novel. The setting is the court martial of a U.S. defector to the Communists during the Korean campaigns. The author chooses not to explore the problem of loyalties, but rather the question as to whether a man can place the collective good above his personal good, without the rewards due a hero and even with the danger of a stigma on his name. Able Bliss is no hero in the grand manner, but rather a tool of fate. A capsule containing intelligence information was passed to him by a dying U.S. secret agent in Korea. Then Bliss is captured, casts his lot with the ""progressives"" and- to further protect his secret, murders another G.I. prisoner. After the truce and the delivery of the capsule, Bliss knows he can expect no help from Security and must stand trial, unless he reveals the mission thrust upon him. The strain has reduced him to a state of mental collapse; he passively goes through the trial; and only at the close, sentenced to life imprisonment, does he show a spark of humanness and attempts escape -- and is killed. Bliss' final action was an instinctive one, but it came too late. The problem is important and in handled effectively, with skill and astuteness.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1957
Publisher: Crown