Time of War

Michael Peterson, Author
Michael Peterson, Author Atria Books $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-68303-0
Reviewed on: 03/01/1990
Release date: 03/01/1990
Written by a former Marine lieutenant, this sprawling drama of the Vietnam war has all the elements of a TV miniseries--lush settings, sexy characters, high-level cloak-and-dagger espionage and acts of personal bravery. Bradley Marshall is Lyndon Johnson's personal ambassador to Vietnam, whose attempts to end the war through secret negotiations with the North Vietnamese are opposed by high-level CIA operatives within the U.S. Embassy. Marshall's bodyguard, true-blue Lt. Ron Mead, is forced to terminate his romance with a 17-year-old prostitute when a CIA agent instructs him to establish a homosexual liaison with a decadent French spy. Meanwhile, Mead's company in Khe Sanh struggles to survive the North Vietnamese onslaught and the almost nonsensical orders of its own commanding officers. Peterson adroitly evokes embassy intrigue and his battle scenes are immediate and compelling. Some readers may be taken aback by the powerful, troubled current of sexuality, however: erotic hero-worship alternates with cartoonish views of homosexuality; rape, whoring and pornography are presented as GI staples; sex and violence are always linked. Though the story at times reads like potboiler melodrama, Peterson constructs an elaborate, absorbing and viscerally affecting narrative. Major ad/promo; Literary Guild, Doubleday and Military Book Club alternates. (Mar.)
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