The novel is a story of love, corruption, greed and American ethnocentrism abroad. The novel is based on major events in Iran and Thailand: the impending revolution in Iran and the influx of hundreds of thousands of Indochinese refugees in Thailand. The first chapter is set in Isfahan, Iran where Jack Dakasian is working as a civilian instructor in a training program for Iranian military personnel learning to pilot and maintain U.S. made helicopters. Jack witnesses the conduct of Americans in Iran amidst the social turmoil in the country and returns to Thailand with an emerging love for Amara, a university instructor in Bangkok, Thailand.
When Jack arrives in Thailand he becomes involved in a worthy cause, assisting refugees fleeing Cambodia. He is a field officer for the U.S. Refugee Program helping Cambodian refugees enter the United States. Jack soon discovers with the help of his former students that there is corruption in United Nations contracts for food, shelter and transportation in the massive refugee effort that involves officials of the World Food Programme and the U.S. Embassy . Events lead Jack to an ever widening circle of corruption that includes tourist development.