In Danger's Path (Corps Series #8)by W. E. B. Griffin
Put in charge of the OSS's Pacific operations, General Fleming Pickering is faced with two covert missions in the Gobi Desert. Called to duty is a Marine he doesn't expect...a scapegrace pilot named Malcolm, his son. Together, they will venture incognito--and with luck they may even come out alive...
In Danger's Path, by W.E.B. Griffin, is going to be at the top of every technothriller reader's list. It's the latest in his Corps saga, complete with characters we've been thinking about since the last book, Behind the Lines. Even though the holiday season is basically over, In Danger's Path still makes for a wonderful gift. Everybody loves a good war story, right? Stash a couple in the closet for emergency gifts, wrap one up for anyone who was ever in the military, get a few for your history-buff friends, and you're finished shopping for the entire year. Want to be a real hero? Pick up the entire Corps series for your favorite reader. Then toss another log on the fire and be prepared for a treat as you crack open a copy for yourself.
If you've read W.E.B. Griffin's books before, you know what's in store: Fact and fiction interwoven so skillfully, it's hard to tell where the history leaves off and the novel begins. This book follows the Griffin traditions of real people, real wars, and can't-put-it-down storytelling.
In Danger's Path takes us inside the Machiavellian world of politics and power as President Roosevelt masterminds interlocking intelligence agencies and turf fights. Fleming Pickering is tapped to head up operations of the OSS in the Pacific, Roosevelt's choice as the one man who can broker the competing interests of General MacArthur, Admiral Nimitz, the FBI, and the OSS and still deliver on the intelligence and special-operations missions all of them need.
Roosevelt has also reengineered world geography, defining "the Pacific" to include the Gobi Desert just so Pickering will be in charge of the Pacific campaign's most critical mission. The Air Force and the Navy need vital weather data, which means a weather station that covers the part of the world in which the storms form: Russia or the Gobi. Russia's out, so Pickering dispatches a crack team -- including Ken "Killer" McCoy, now a Marine Corps captain -- into the Gobi to hook up with a wandering band of former Marine guards from the Peking legation, retired Marines and soldiers, and Yangtze River patrol sailors fleeing the war with their dependents. If Pickering can get them the meteorological and communications equipment they need, they just might be the key to winning the war in the Pacific.
Back on the front lines, Ed Banning is in Shanghai and has just married Russian Countess Maria Catherine Ludmilla Zhivkov, now exiled and stateless. Days after their wedding, before Banning can get a private bill passed to allow her to emigrate to the U.S., his unit is deployed to Manila. He leaves Maria in the care of Sergeant Ernie Zimmerman's wife, Mae Su, who masterminds a trek through Kazakhstan and into India in a desperate flight from the encroaching war.
W.E.B. Griffin keeps you completely engrossed in the history, the politics, and the battle. You'll forget today's news as In Danger's Path plunges you into the lives of men and women who fought and won World War II.
--C. A. Mobley
C. A. Mobley is a graduate of the Naval War College and author of the national bestsellers Rites of War and Rules of Command. Other Mobley titles, published under the name C. W. Morton, include Pilots Die Faster and Rage Sleep.
Read an Excerpt
Shanghai, China November 1941 Countess Maria Catherine Ludmilla Zhivkov, formerly of St. Petersburg, was united in holy matrimony to Captain Edward J. Banning, USMC, of Charleston, South Carolina, by the Very Reverend James Fitzhugh Ferneyhough, D.D., canon of the cathedral, in a 10:45 A.M. Anglican ceremony on 12 November 1941. It was the first marriage for both.
Throughout the ceremony, the tall, black-haired, blue-eyed bride, age twenty-seven and known as Milla, wondered when and how she would take her life.
She loved Ed Banning madly; that was not the problem. She had felt something special the moment he walked into her small apartment off the Bund. And this spark had almost immediately, almost frighteningly, turned into excitement and desire.
The problem was that they really had no future; and she was fully aware of that. Ed Banning was an officer of the United States Corps of Marines, about to leave Shanghai, almost certainly never to return, and she was an escapee from what was now the Soviet Union. In Imperial Russia, she had been born into a noble family. Now she was a stateless person without a country. Her Nansen passport -- issued to stateless Russians who had fled the Revolution and from whom the Communist government had withdrawn citizenship -- was a passport in name only. It was not valid for travel to the United States, or, for that matter, for travel anywhere else.
The Japanese army in Shanghai was poised to take over the city. This might happen in the next week or two, or else somewhat later. In any event, it was going to happen, and when it did, she would be at their mercy.
Once American, French, British, German, and Italian troopshad been stationed in Shanghai to protect their own nationals -- but de facto all westerners, including the "Nansen people" -- against Japanese outrages. That protection was in the process of being withdrawn.
At the start of the war in Europe, the Italians, the Germans, and the Japanese had become allies, called the "Axis Powers." Soon afterward, the Italians and Germans left Shanghai; yet even before that, it was clear they were not going to challenge Japanese authority in the city in any way. Meanwhile, following their defeat in Europe, the French had withdrawn their troops from China and had signed a "Treaty of Friendship" with the Japanese that permitted the Japanese to use military air bases and naval facilities in French Indochina. Finally, in August 1940, the British had announced their withdrawal from Shanghai and northern China.
That had left only the Americans in Shanghai.
Now they too were leaving. War between the Japanese and the Americans was inevitable. Until war actually came, the Japanese in Shanghai would probably behave no more badly than they had when the Americans were stationed in the city. They were still paying lip service to the "Bushido Code of the Warrior" and were not entirely deaf to world opinion. But when war came, that would be the end of any pretense. Meaning: every westerner, except Germans, Italians, and the rare citizens of neutral powers, would be at the mercy of the Japanese. It would be rape in every sense, not just the physical rape of women. They'd ravage bank accounts, real estate, everything.
All the property that Ed had turned over to her -- the convertible red Pontiac of which he was so fond, the furniture in the apartment, and the paid-three-years-in advance lease on the apartment -- would disappear.
And Japanese officers liked white women. If they were now willing to pay a premium for Russian whores, what would happen to her when rape was the norm?
If her future offered nothing but becoming a whore for some Japanese officer, Milla preferred to be dead.
The first time Milla saw Ed Banning, he had a long, green cigar clamped between what she thought of as perfect American teeth. He was in uniform, tall, thin and erect, and just starting to bald; and, she learned a little later, he was thirty-six years old.
Earlier, Banning had telephoned Milla in answer to her advertisement in the Shanghai Post: "Wu, Cantonese and Mandarin Conversation offered at reasonable rates by multi-lingual Western Lady." On the telephone, he told her that he was an officer of the 4th Marines. His voice was very nice. Deep, soft, and masculine. "You sound British," he went on to say.
She recognized that as a question and answered it: "Actually, I'm Russian," and added, "Stateless."
She knew that any sort of a relationship between stateless people -- sometimes called "Nansen people" -- and American diplomatic and military personnel was frowned upon or outright forbidden. It was better to get that out in the open now, she knew, rather than opening up the possibility of an embarrassing scene when they actually met.
To a great many Nansen women, forming a relationship with an American officer -- becoming his mistress -- was a far better way to earn their living than any of their other options. But Milla wished to make it clear from the beginning that she wanted nothing but a professional, student-teacher relationship. She didn't want to become the girlfriend of an American officer, much less his mistress. She wasn't quite that desperate. She knew it wasn't likely that she could turn her at-home language classes into a real school that would support her. But she had some jewels hidden in her underwear drawer, sewn into her mother's girdle when they fled St. Petersburg. A few of these still remained. When the last of them was gone, then she might have to consider something like that. But not yet, not now.
In fact, her Nansen status did not seem to bother him. Later, when they actually discussed it, he explained to her that he was the intelligence officer for the 4th Marines, and as such judged "other officers' inappropriate relationships." Any relationship he had himself, he said, smiling smugly, was of course appropriate.
Anyhow, when he asked over the phone if he could come right over, he could be there in fifteen minutes, she told him, "yes." Then she stationed herself at her window, curious enough to peek through the curtains, waiting for him to arrive.
He drove up in a bright red Pontiac convertible, the top down. And a moment later he hired a man on the street to watch his car while he was inside -- demonstrating to her that he was not entirely ignorant of Wu, the Chinese language most commonly used in Shanghai.
But that was a minor detail just then. What really hit her the moment she saw him walking across the street to her building was the certainty that he was going to change her life.
And she knew as soon as he saw her that his reaction was similar.
When she opened the door to his ring, he blurted, startled, "My God, you're beautiful!"
"You wish, as I understand it, to improve your conversational Chinese?" she replied coldly
. "Absolutely," he said. "I didn't mean to offend."
Milla ignored that.
"You already speak some Chinese," she said, and without thinking, added: "I saw you speaking to the man about your car."
"What were you doing," Banning asked, chuckling, "peeking out from behind the curtains?"
"I just happened to be looking out the window."
"Of course," he said. "Yeah, I speak some Wu and Mandarin. But I'd like to perfect it."
"Speak only? Or read and write?"
"I read a little, but I have not mastered much writing."
"We could work on that, too, if you like," she said.
Their first session proved that he was serious about perfecting his Chinese. It was also apparent that he was highly intelligent. So when he asked if they could meet twice a week, maybe more often if he could find the time, she readily agreed.
When he came back, he was a perfect gentleman. There was not the slightest hint that he thought she was a Nansen girl looking for an American benefactor.
After their fifth session, very correctly, he asked her if she would have dinner with him. She accepted uneasily. This man was exciting in ways she had never experienced with other men.
Over dinner, she learned a little bit about him. The enormous ring on his finger, for instance, signified graduation from a private military school called The Citadel. His father -- who had been an Army officer, a colonel -- had also graduated from The Citadel. As had his grandfather, and his great-grandfather. They had all been soldiers; he was the first Marine in the family.
Though she had also come from a military family, she didn't tell him everything there was to say about that. She did tell him that her father had been an officer, but not that he had been a lieutenant general on the General Staff of the Imperial Army, for fear he would not believe her, or else think she was boasting. Neither did she tell him that her father had been a count, and that, on the death of her parents, she had come into possession of the title.
Every other Russian in Shanghai with a Nansen passport claimed he was a Count, or a Grand Duke. So what? That life was gone forever anyway.
All through dinner, Ed Banning behaved with absolute correctness. And when they danced, he carefully avoided all but the most necessary body contact.
At her apartment door, he very properly shook her hand, thanked her for the pleasure of her company, and asked if they could have dinner again sometime soon.
When she went to the window to watch him leave, he was already gone. The depth of her disappointment surprised her.
Twenty minutes later, just as she was about to slip into bed, the telephone rang.
"Milla, this is Ed," he said. His voice sounded strange.
"Is something wrong?"
"Yeah, I'm afraid so."
"I probably should have told you this at dinner, but I couldn't work up the courage."
Oh, God, he's going away! Or, just as bad, our perfectly innocent, wholly businesslike relationship has come to the attention of his superiors, and despite his claims to be able to discern inappropriate relationships for himself, he has been told to sever his relationship with me.
"Tell me what?"
"I'm in love with you," Ed Banning said, and the phone went dead
. That's insane, if it's true. If it isn't true, then he wants me for his mistress -- the proposition he's been hiding behind his gentlemanly mask. If he really means what he said, about being in love with me...that's hopeless. People in love get married...unless the people concerned are a Russian refugee with a Nansen passport and an officer in the United States Corps of Marines. For them marriage simply is not possible.
Milla got very little sleep that night, as she ran the possibilities through her head over and over again. None of them was appealing.
What she would do, she finally decided, was speak to him the next day when he showed up for his lesson. She would tell him that under the circumstances it would be better all around if he found someone else to help him perfect his Chinese.
But when he appeared next day at her door, she was suddenly struck dumb. All she could do was smile -- carefully not looking at him -- and motion him into her living room. Their conversation session was perfectly routine. Afterward, all she could remember was that he was wearing an aftershave lotion that smelled like limes. When the time was up, he stood up and offered her his hand. Touching it made her feel very strange in her middle.
"Thank you," he said.
"Don't be silly," she said.
"And thank you for not being offended by my call last night."
"Were you drinking?" Milla asked.
"Not then, except for the wine we had at dinner. Afterward. Yeah."
He let go of her hand and walked to the door.
Milla suddenly knew what she wanted to do. Had to do. No matter what the ultimate cost.
"Just a minute, please, Ed," Milla said.
"It won't take a minute," she said, then walked into her bedroom and closed the door.
And then she stared at the closed door and glanced around the room.
It was, of course, insane.
Her eyes fell on a faded photograph of her father.
"Life is a gamble, Milla," the former Lieutenant General Count Vasily Ivanovich Zhivkov had told her many times. "Sometimes, if you want something very much, it is necessary to put all your chips on the table, and wait to see where the wheel stops. If you understand that the ball will probably not fall into your hole, you will know, when it does not, that you at least tried. It is better to risk everything and lose than not to take the chance."
Looking at herself in the faded mirror of her dressing table, she unbuttoned her blouse and shrugged out of it and let it fall to the floor. Then she slipped out of her skirt and underwear and leaned over to pick up her only -- and nearly empty -- bottle of perfume. She dabbed perfume behind her ears and between her breasts and then -- embarrassed, averting her eyes from her reflection -- between her legs.
Then she threw the cover off her bed, crawled in, and pulled the sheet up under her chin.
She called his name. She didn't seem to have control of her voice. She wondered if he had heard her through the closed door.
"Would you come in here, please?" she called.
He opened the door, and asked "What?" again when he saw her in the bed.
When she didn't reply, he said her name, "Milla?" and she saw that he was having trouble with his voice, too.
"I have been in love with you from the moment I saw you drive up in your car," she said.
And then she threw the sheet away from her body and held out her arms to him.
"Oh, Jesus H. Christ, Milla!" Ed said softly, and then got in bed with her and put his arms around her.
She had, she knew, just put her last chip on the table.
"I got a cable from my father today," Captain Ed Banning announced a week later. They were in his apartment. He was on his back, his hands folded under his head. She was on her stomach, her face on his chest, her right leg on top of his. Their coupling had been intense, and he had been sweating. Even though she could smell his underarms, she didn't mind that at all, but worried -- because she'd been sweating, too -- that her own odor might offend him.
"Is something wrong?"
"No, as a matter of fact, things are looking up."
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"First things first," he said. "Will you marry me, Maria Catherine Ludmilla Zhivkov? Will you promise to love, cherish, and obey me, in sickness and in health, et cetera, et cetera, so long as we both shall live?"
She felt the tears come.
"Don't do this to me, Ed," she said softly.
"What is that, a no? After I spent all that money -- it's twenty-two cents a word -- cabling my father about you?"
"You cabled your father about me?"
"What did you tell him?"
"Not much. I told you, it's twenty-two cents a word, but I did tell him that if he wants to be a grandfather, he'd better go see good ol' Uncle Zach and ask him to pass a special law allowing the future mother of his grandchild into the States."
"Ed, I have no idea what you're talking about."
"You haven't answered the question," Ed said. "Let's start with that."
"Will you marry me, Milla? Would you rather I got out of bed and got on my knees?"
"We can't get married; you know that as well as I do."
"Well, for the sake of argument, if you could, would you?"
"Ed, for the love of God, don't start saying things you don't mean, or making promises you won't be able to keep," Milla said. "Please."
"I never do," he said, a little indignantly. "Answer the question."
"Oh, Ed, if it were possible, I would try very hard to be a good wife to you."
"I didn't detect a whole hell of a lot of enthusiasm."
"How can I be enthusiastic about something both of us know will never happen?
"You don't seem to understand, Milla," he said. "I'm trying to tell you that the Marines have landed, and the situation is well in hand."
"Damn you! Stop this. I don't think it's funny. It's cruel. It's perverse!"
"Before I cabled my father," Ed said. "I went down to the legation and asked the consul general some questions." He caught her eye. "He's a nice guy and won't run off at the mouth about that."
"Questions about us?"
"About you," he said. "Your Nansen status. Specifically, I asked him how I can get you into the United States."
"And he told you that that's impossible. I'm surprised you don't know that. You can't immigrate to the United States on a Nansen passport."
"Unless you get a special law passed by Congress, is what he told me."
"What do you mean, a 'special law'?"
"The Congress of the United States in solemn assembly passes a law stating that so much of the applicable laws pertaining are waived in the case of Maria Catherine Ludmilla Zhivkov, and the Attorney General is hereby directed to forthwith issue to the said Maria Catherine Ludmilla Zhivkov an immigration visa."
"That's possible?" she asked incredulously.
"We can't get married here. I'd need permission, and the Colonel would never grant it. And I can't resign from the Corps now. Resignations have been suspended for what they call 'The Emergency.' "
"So what are you talking about?"
"What we have to do is get you to the States," he said. "Once you're in the States, we can get married. I won't be the first Marine officer with a foreign-born wife. And I really want to stay in the Corps."
"You're dreaming the impossible. Didn't your consul general tell you what we both know? I can't get into the United States on a Nansen passport."
"That's where good old Uncle Zach comes in with his special law," Ed said. "My father's cable said that he had gone to see Uncle Zach, and Uncle Zach came on board."
"Your Uncle Zach has political connections?"
"He's not really my uncle. He and my father were classmates at The Citadel. But I've known him all of my life."
"But he has political connections?"
"The Honorable Zachary W. Westminister III has the honor to be the Representative to the Congress of the United States from the Third Congressional District of the great state of South Carolina."
"And he will help?"
"The way my father sounded, it's a done deal. It won't happen next week, but it can be done."
Oh, Holy Mary, Mother of God, is it possible? Has the wheel stopped spinning and the ball really dropped into my hole?
Milla started to weep.
He raised his head to look down at her and saw the tears running down her cheeks.
"Hey," he asked, very tenderly, touching her cheek with his fingers. "What's that all about?"
"Ed, I want so much to believe, but I'm so afraid.
" "I told you, baby, the Marines have landed, and the situation is well in hand."
"What does that 'Marines have landed' mean?" she asked, confused.
"It means that between now and the time the next Pan American Clipper leaves for the States, we have to go to the legation and get certified true copies made of all your documents, including your Nansen passport and what they call a 'narrative of the circumstances' by which you wound up here. Then we stuff everything in an airmail envelope and send it off to Uncle Zach. Who will get a special law passed for us."
"Really, Ed? This can be done?"
"Really, baby. It will be done."
Believe the dream. Why not? A dream is all I have.
She kissed his chest.
"But we don't have to do that right now," Ed said. "And, anyway, I see that something else has come up we're going to have to do something about."
"Excuse me?" Milla asked, looking up at him.
He pointed to his midsection.
"Oh," she said.
"Does that suggest anything to you?" he asked.
Milla put her hand on him, rolled over onto her back, and guided him into her.
Meet the Author
W. E. B. Griffin is the author of seven bestselling series: The Corps, Brotherhood of War, Badge of Honor, Men at War, Honor Bound, Presidential Agent, and now Clandestine Operations. He lives in Fairhope, Alabama, and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
- Coppell, Texas
- Date of Birth:
- November 10, 1929
- Place of Birth:
- Newark, New Jersey
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Such attention to the details of WWII military life makes 'IN DANGER'S PATH' seem more like history than novel. Minor observations: not Canons, but Deans of Anglican Cathedrals are titled 'Very Reverend' and the designations 'Upper Half' and 'Lower Half' for Rear Admirals did not come into use until years after WWII.Before it was 'commodore' and just 'Rear Admiral' none of which takes anything away from this terrific book.
Great historical fiction.
Really have liked his whole marine corps series of books. They have been really well done.
The whole process from searching on the website to ordering is an outstanding process. Other companies could learn from them.
Plot and character development was very interesting, not at all boring. Not much action until the end of the book. The author carried it off very well and I thoroughly enjoyed the read. am looking for ward to the next in the series, which will get into the Korean conflict and the OSS will become the CIA.
No doubt the finest chronicler of military action of our age! No one handles dialog better. Thoroughly researched subject matter and true to historical detail. If you read one, you MUST read them all.
Like so many other reviewers I am a former Marine who really enjoyed WEB's style of writing many years ago, along with Clancy. Having recently renewed my interest in reading through the eyes of a senior citizen I find Clancy too wordy but Griffen as enjoyable as ever. This is a great continuation of all the characters easily recognizable from the earllier "Corps" series.