It is Memorial Day weekend, 1975. Far removed from his death-defying battlefield experiences on Iwo Jima and post-war Marine Corps occupation of China, Bill "Reddog" Olson is now a successful engineer anticipating a holiday in the sleepy beach town of Belmont Shore, California. Unknown to Olson, a letter would summon once familiar ghosts and trigger a new episode of post-traumatic stress, not least the long-buried secret of killing a prominent colonel in Mao's insurgent army. Wartime reflections will fray his resolve to secure a professional opportunity to return to China in a U.S. government operation. It will be a new war of wits, ingenuity, and strategic leadership; a war the communists may yet win.
In a story broadly characterizing the resilient, self-taught, imperfect men who comprise one of America's greatest generations, Olson is an intriguing case study, one that by and large captures his generation's education. A generation that felled fascism, outdistanced brutal Soviet-style communism, and helped to engineer remarkable rising economic prosperity and political freedom around the world. Author Steven Loomis offers a tale and sharp insight concerning the kind of education and leadership responsible for much of that prosperity and freedom, as well as a penetrating afterword regarding the corruptible yet widely popular type of thinking presently undermining it.
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