A Bitter Peace

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"Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has passed to a new generation of Americans - born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace...." These sentiments, expressed by John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address, inspired Bradley Marshall to enter government service. But by 1972 Kennedy is dead - and so are Marshall's ideals. An envoy for three presidents, he has negotiated with kings and dictators, the world's foremost liars. Now, Marshall stands in the Oval Office,
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Overview

"Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has passed to a new generation of Americans - born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace...." These sentiments, expressed by John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address, inspired Bradley Marshall to enter government service. But by 1972 Kennedy is dead - and so are Marshall's ideals. An envoy for three presidents, he has negotiated with kings and dictators, the world's foremost liars. Now, Marshall stands in the Oval Office, Kissinger on one side, Nixon on the other. Next stop: Vietnam. "Peace," Nixon says to Marshall, "is in your hands." A Bitter Peace takes us into a world where men succeed at carving up continents but fail to protect their own children...where nothing has value, everything a price. Ultimately, beyond the battlefields, the conference tables, and the enclaves of power, a man of conscience finds a far more challenging world within himself, and the one goal worth pursuing - that of personal redemption.

The author of the highly acclaimed novel A Time of War now delivers the passionate final chapter on the Vietnam War. Presidential envoy Bradley Marshall's mission to achieve peace with honor in Vietnam is doomed to failure--and it will haunt him and his family for years to come.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Diplomat Bradley Marshall, who-as depicted in Peterson's A Time of War (1990)-tried in the late 1960s to end the conflict in Vietnam, returns for another go. Now it's 1972, and Marshall is asked by Nixon and Kissinger to persuade the South Vietnamese to sign the peace treaty that ultimately will leave them defenseless. In Saigon, Marshall runs afoul of CIA agent Wilson Lord, an old nemesis, when he is approached by a North Vietnamese diplomat who has conclusive proof of General Giap's secret plans to overwhelm the South once the Americans are gone. The narrative then jumps ahead six years. As the Shah of Iran lies dying of cancer, Marshall is sent by Jimmy Carter to Paris in order to contact the Ayatollah Khomeini. Once again, Marshall comes up against Lord, as well as a man who wants revenge for something the diplomat did in Saigon six years before. These two plot lines are structured to highlight well-portrayed conflicts among duty, honor, patriotism and personal loyalty. Narrative flow is impeded, however, by other, melodramatic elements-Marshall's family problems, the revenge plot. Peterson seems to be trying to do for recent U.S. history what Alexandre Dumas did for the history of France-to ennoble and illuminate it through a dramatic ``secret history'' that portrays the truth behind the facts. It's a mission he performs well, when he sticks to the political; it's only when the personal takes over that his storytelling falls flat. (Mar.)
Donovan Fitzpatrick
Peterson writes with authority and passion...his characters come brilliantly alive. -- New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
In a sequel to A Time of War (1990), former LBJ emissary Bradley Marshall takes on a diplomatic chore for Nixon: trying to persuade the South Vietnamese to sign a peace treaty that sells them out.

Marshall's the right choice for this miserable job because the South Vietnamese trust him. He has hardly landed in Saigon, however, when he learns of a highly placed North Vietnamese defector who has a copy of General Giap's plan to invade the South immediately after the accord is signed. Such a plan will surely scuttle the treaty and also jeopardize the one remaining American interest: release of the POWs. In moral agony, Marshall proceeds to make contact with the defector—as does his old nemesis, CIA operative Wilson Lord. All bets are off, though, when the defector is killed; in the action, a young Marine officer, Luke Bishop, is seriously wounded. In Marshall's haste to get Bishop to a hospital, his car runs down a toddler, the only daughter of an old Chinese, Chien Lin Huong, who has been an American ally. Next scene: six years later, and Jimmy Carter sends Marshall on another impossible mission, this time to Paris to make peace with the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini, since Carter knows the Shah is about to fall. Marshall brings along Ron Mean, his bodyguard from A Time of War, as well as the recovered Bishop—and the two are soon fending off the obsessed Huong, who lost his fortune, his wife, and his mother to the Communists, and who now blames Marshall. Enter Wilson Lord once again, combatting the fuzzy liberal thinking of Carter and his emissary, enlisting Huong in a plot to assassinate Marshall and thereby block rapprochement with the Ayatollah.

Peterson's presidents never come alive, but his politics are shrewd and he spins a fine intrigue: Herman Wouk, say, by way of William F. Buckley.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671726959
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 2/29/2000
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.59 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Table of Contents

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