1970 the Mekong delta region. In a small province Capt. Jake Gulliver a Green Beret is assigned to an Embassy House to be an adviser for the local Phoenix program. This program is the clandestine CIA program to eliminate VC operatives and sympathizers usually through assassination and torture. Code name Sandman because he was an expert assassin who killed his targets while they slept. Gulliver hates his assignment and especially the CIA boss Steadman code name Razor. Razor is out to get Gulliver for messing up one of his operations that derailed his career. Gulliver finds refugee from this life in opium, his affair with Nhu a local celebrity in the theater troupe. He also has a strong friendship with his Vietnamese counterpart Dang.
So in this life one day an overzealous new American officer arrests and tortures the wrong man. An act that inflames the local populace and threatens to destabilize the whole province. Now he has to choose between his conscience and duty for the retribution that his superiors have chosen to resolve the crisis.
So I have always as a tradition read a Vietnam War book over my Christmas vacation. This year was this enjoyable novel. It was actually one my father bought and gave to me after he finished reading it because he thought I would enjoy it. He was right. This book was an engrossing read. The author served as a reporter for Newsweek during the war so he has experience being there. This comes out in the book for you do feel that you are in Vietnam. It states in the notes that the methods of interrogation are based on fact. This books gives a were realistic portrayal of the torture and other methods used by the Phoenix program.
He combines it with fleshed out characters that you feel are real. Each one has a believable backstory. It captures the pettiness of bureaucrats doing anything to save their asses. Combined with intrigue of counterspies and local corrupt politics make this an engrossing read.
A young American volunteer in the RAF is shot down in 1939. Instead of dying he finds himself mysteriously teleported to the planet Poloda. Poloda is millions of light years from Earth. He finds himself in the country of Unis and is adopted by its people.
Unis is one of two countries left on the planet. They have been at war with Kapar which is a Nazi type country bent on world conquest. Unis is the only country that has successfully resisted them and has been waging a war for centuries. From underground cities, tens of thousands of airplanes sortie on bombing missions.
Tangor as the young American is named becomes a pilot for Unis. One day a traitor attempts to recruit him as an agent of Kapar. Tangor agrees to pretend to defect to Kapdor. Kapdor is close to developing an interstellar spacecraft and Unis wants it to escape the planet and the endless war with the Kapars.
Once in the capital city he finds himself in an oppressive society. Under constant surveillance by the Zabo, the secret police, he doesn’t know who to trust. Eventually he gains the trust of Kapar’s ruler and is allowed to work on the spacecraft project. With the help of a highly placed Unis spy he escapes with the plans. It ends with Tangor testing the prototype craft on a mission to another planet.
This is story that was most likely to be an ongoing series in the tradition of Mars and Pellucidar. Unfortunately Burrough’s time as a war correspondent then poor health resulted in the one book only. It is a shame since I think this whole new world of Pangor had infinite possibilities. It was written at the height of the Battle of Britain so it probably looked like an endless future of aerial warfare was a possibility. The Kapars are clearly Nazis with their Gestapo like Zabo and beliefs in racial purity. Unlike the Zani’s in Carson of Venus these fascists are a lot more sinister then the buffoons written about in Carson’s world. It shows how attitudes had changed about the Nazis from before WWII to the current one during the war.
Logan Adams is a successful adventure novelist. He has come to visit his sister in his native New Zealand when she asks him for a favor. Her husband was involved in an expedition to Antarctica where he was the only survivor. He claims to have seen a city. Everybody thinks he abandoned his teammates and is making up this story.
The husband has convinced an eccentric Englishman named Warden Grampton to finance and expedition. Grampton has a theory that Antarctica was inhabited in the past and hopes to prove it. Logan’s sister wants Logan to accompany the expedition to watch after her husband. Logan has arctic training from his days in the Canadian army and proves to be a beneficial addition to the expedition.
Logan is reluctant but agrees. Soon after he is attacked by thugs on a walk and has his car breaks severed. Grampton’s assistant dies in a mysterious accident. It seems that someone does not want this expedition to go forward.
The expedition finally reaches Antarctica and find out that the city turns out to be a Soviet base with plans to turn Antarctica into a giant nuclear base for missiles.
I got this book thinking that it would be like an Indiana Jones story with a lost civilization. What I got was a tense spy thriller. I wasn’t disappointed in buying this book. It has an interesting plot with suspense and action. The exotic locales of New Zealand and Antarctica are refreshing unique. If you want an exciting suspense book I would recommend it.