Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Ryan, the nonpartisan citizen president, has been reelected, but his negative attitude toward career and typical politicians has not softened. His major advisers, the secretaries of the treasury and defense, are wealthy self-made businessmen, who bring their private enterprise acumen to their departments. Early in the novel, a Japanese American secret CIA agent, whose cover is selling Japanese computers in the People’s Republic of China, has seduced the secretary of Fang Gan, a member of the Chinese Communist politburo or governing council, dominated by Zhang Han San, thus giving the CIA access to the inner workings and conversations of China’s despotic governing elite.
Communist China has been rapidly building up its military, purchasing weapons and other war materials from abroad, but the Chinese economy, in spite of its many exports, verges on bankruptcy, although the members of the politburo are only dimly aware of the impending crisis. Fortuitously, a lifeline appears. Massive amounts of gold and enormous oil reserves are discovered in Russia’s Siberia, the oil reserves alone potentially larger than in the oil-rich Middle East. The gold and oil promise to invigorate and modernize Russian society, struggling since the collapse of the Soviet Union a decade earlier. To the Chinese leadership, the solution to China’s problems is to invade Russia and forcibly seize those valuable resources. Prior to the Chinese military invasion, an attempt is...
(The entire section is 494 words.)
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