cover image A Dirty Distant War

A Dirty Distant War

E. M. Nathanson. Viking Books, $19.95 (496pp) ISBN 978-0-670-80334-7

This surprisingly rich sequel to Nathanson's The Dirty Dozen begins with OSS Maj. John Reisman switching from the European to the Pacific theater and parachuting into Burma to try to prevent conflict between two of America's allies, the Kachin tribesmen and the Kuomintang of bordering China. Conflicts and the peculiarly shifting Asian alliances comprise this book's themespolitics that, as history shows, resulted in still more turmoil in postwar Asia. Reisman's assignment leads him from Burma to China, where he learns of treachery among warlords and secret collaboration with the Japanese. Then it takes him to Vietnam and an unusual arrangement with the young Ho Chi Minh. In addition to action a-plenty, the narrative contains richly textured portrayals of the intersecting cultures and the sophisticated relationship of politics to this (or any) war. Assiduously researched, Nathanson's accomplished novel is an outstanding read. 35,000 first printing. (September 16)