Allison Reyleigh, seventeen, leaves the convent in England to return to her father who is at the Government House in Rangoon. It is 1941, and she escapes the start of WW2 in Europe only to find the Japanese on the outskirts of Burmah.
Her father puts her on a boat bound for Calcutta in India while he retreats with the British forces to Mandalay. The boat is bombed and turns back to Rangoon, where Allison is stranded. She is saved by the old Amah and her granddaughter, Lete, as they hide out in the deserted city and send word to her father who comes to find her.
Helped by a young clerk from her father’s office, Mathew Ranger, they escape before the advancing army, pursued by the relentless Japanese Captain Moto, and flee into the forest and mountains as they make their way to the border and safety of India. They are accompanied by an American flyer, Bud Wesley, who is with the American volunteers, flying over the Hump for General Stillwell as they help the Chinese repel the Japanese, and the beautiful Chinese interpreter Mei Ling, also the Chin fighter Amusan, who is known as the Tiger of the Hills.