A Bitter Peace Summary
by Michael Peterson

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A Bitter Peace

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The setting of Peterson’s novel encompasses the end of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam and the overthrow of the Iranian government. Although, Peterson uses real names for his characters, all of the actions and conversations are fictional. The novel begins with the protagonist, Bradley Marshall, a United States Ambassador serving under Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. Marshall’s mission is to return to Vietnam in an attempt to persuade the South Vietnamese government to sign the peace treaty. Marshall knows that the peace treaty will inevitably cause the fall of South Vietnam. Nevertheless, Marshall is bound by his allegiance to the president, so he returns to Vietnam.

Wilson Lord, a CIA agent nicknamed, the “Phantom,” is Marshall’s archenemy. Lord has an all too personal stake in Vietnam—his wife and son are Vietnamese. If the South Vietnamese government signs the treaty, Lord’s wife and son would be in danger from the Vietcong invasion. Lord will stop at nothing to prevent Marshall from getting the treaty signed even if it means shooting Luke Bishop, Marshall’s bodyguard.

Marshall hears the gunfire and attempts to get his bodyguard to the hospital. While Marshall’s driver is speeding towards the hospital, he accidentally runs over a “dog.” Marshall learns later that the “dog” was the daughter of an influential Chinese businessman, Mr. Huong. Mr. Huong vows that he will get revenge for the death of his daughter.

Part 2 of A BITTER PEACE takes place six years later. The year is 1978, and Jimmy Carter is in the White House. Marshall must once again go up against his archenemy, Wilson Lord, when he is sent to Paris to meet with the Ayatollah Khomeini. The tension mounts as Mr. Huong emerges to exact his revenge.

Peterson’s novel is full of intriguing plot twists that mirror the complexity of keeping the peace.