Chapters 1–3

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Last Reviewed on February 13, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1275

Chapter 1: Lucky, Lucky Lou #1

Louis Sears, the American ambassador to a Southeast Asian country, Sarkhan, is unhappy. He is a former US senator known as “Lucky, Lucky Louis” because his political opponents always seem to collapse just before an election. His current unhappiness is the result of his having been caricatured in a Sarkhan newspaper, and he has complained to Prince Ngong, the Sarkhan Minister of Protocol.

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An aide to Sears then tells him that John Colvin, an American former officer of the Office of Strategic Services (precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency) who fought with the Sarkhanese against the Japanese during World War II, has been viciously attacked. A mob of women believe that Colvin is trying to weaken the morals of young women by introducing a Sarkhan aphrodisiac into powdered milk provided by Colvin’s company in the US. Sears mistakenly believes that this is a “girl meets boy” affair gone wrong and plans to visit Colvin in the hospital.

In actuality, Colvin has been attacked by a World War II Sarkhan ally, Deong, now a Communist sympathizer. Deong’s goal is to force Colvin at gunpoint to put ipecac, an emetic, into the powdered milk to sicken those who use it. Deong wants to shatter the people’s faith in US aid. When Deong’s attack on Colvin fails, Deong escapes—though not before he lies to the women waiting for powdered milk in order to get them angry enough to attack Colvin. After the attack, Colvin, gravely injured, is “deposited” in front of the US Embassy in Haidho.

Prince Ngong convenes a meeting of the Sarkhan Cabinet to discuss Sears’s complaint. The cabinet discusses the fact that Sarkhan is caught between the competing ideologies of America and Russia and that the Sarkhanese must find a way to satisfy both, especially because they are trying to negotiate a large loan from the US. Their judgment about Sears is that he is “more stupid than most,” but they resolve his complaint by having the editor of the offending newspaper publish a “flattering cartoon” and a complimentary editorial.

When Sears visits Colvin in the hospital, he is still unaware of the actual cause of Colvin’s injuries. He tells Colvin that his actions reflect poorly on the US and that he will have Colvin sent back there. Colvin responds forcefully that he will not leave Sarkhan.

Chapter 2: Lucky, Lucky Lou #2

A new character enters the narrative: Louis Krupitzyn, a Russian who was orphaned when his parents were killed by Bolshevik soldiers in 1917 and who was then raised by the Soviet state. Krupitizyn rises rapidly in the Russian diplomatic corps. After being posted to several countries, Krupitzyn (with his wife) prepares to become the ambassador to Sarkhan by studying every aspect of Sarkhan life, including losing forty pounds so that he will be closer to the physical ideal of a Sarkhan man. He learns the Sarkhan language, art, literature, music, and form of Buddhism so thoroughly that he earns an audience with the chief Buddhist leader in Sarkhan. They discuss philosophy for several hours. 

Shortly after Krupitzyn arrives in Sarkhan, the southern part of the country loses its rice crop because of devastating weather, and Krupitzyn discovers that the US is sending many tons of rice to relieve the ensuing famine. Krupitizyn buys five tons of rice on the black market for immediate use and travels to the famine area. Upon arrival, he announces that thousands of tons of rice will be delivered courtesy of their Russian friends. After the US rice supplies arrive, Krupitzyn arranges for the bales of rice to be stamped “This rice is a gift from Russia,” ensuring that the Sarkhanese believe that Russia, not America, has come to their relief.

Krupitzyn reports to Moscow that Sears is ineffective and occupies his people “with...

(The entire section contains 1275 words.)

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Chapters 4–8