This is a great book! I enjoyed it even more than 'The Dirty Dozen'.
After 'The Dirty Dozen' mission is completed, Reisman drops into Southeast Asia on an assignment to stop another OSS officer from taking his Kachin guerillas - a force with which he has been successfully fighting the Japanese in Burma - into China. However, Reisman learns that the Kuomintang in China, who are aligned with the Americans against the Japanese, have conducted brutal raids into Kachin villages and he is reluctantly swept up in the righteousness of their revenge. Things then turn on his fellow OSS officer in an unexpected way and Reisman is thus quickly introduced to the twisted alliances in this part of the world, which become even more Machiavellian as the story unfolds.
The Americans are pouring war matériel into China so that the Chinese can fight the Japanese, but most of the goods are being horded by the various Chinese warlords as insurance against one another and the rising threat from Mao Tse Tung - along with the murderous American-backed Chiang Kai-Shek, with his all-powerful head of the secret police, Tai Li.
Meanwhile, Viet Minh forces are trying to align themselves with the Americans ostensibly for the same reason - i.e., to help rid French Indochina of the Japanese. However, the Viet Minh under Ho Chi Minh have their own ax to grind against the French colonial powers who, now part of the Vichy government, have established an uneasy truce with the Japanese mainly due to the fact that the Japanese are a much stronger force. Ho also has to deal with the fact that various native factions within Vietnam do not necessarily want to be aligned with him against the French. Then there are the French resistance fighters who are loyal to de Gaulle who don't like the colonial Vichy government, but yet still want to maintain French colonial power in Vietnam postwar - which places them also at odds with Ho. Meanwhile, there is a Japanese Kempetai officer who is secretly aligned with Ho, because the officer sees the writing on the wall and wants to try to lessen the postwar impact on Japan -- or at least on himself -- as much as possible. In him Reisman sees something of himself and they form an uneasy alliance.
Reisman must thread the needle between all of these various factions in trying to carry out his mission, which is to assess the Viet Minh's capabilities to carry the fight against the Japanese, since Ho wants America to supply his troops with arms - ostensibly for this purpose. But Ho's real purpose is always slippery and on top of everything else, Reisman discovers treachery and double-dealing among his own people!
A few of the surviving `Dirty Dozen' join in the fray, and there is much excitement as the group tries to carry out their plans - not all of which are officially sanctioned.
Nathanson has done an excellent job with this book. It is very well researched and via the familiar characters from the `Dirty Dozen' we are able to navigate through the maze of tangled alliances in this most inscrutable area of the world - an area we would later come to know all too well when we became enmeshed in the war in Vietnam.