Corruption in the South Vietnamese government and a lack of commitment on the part of the regular South Vietnamese army are hardly surprising to those familiar with historical accounts of the war. The struggle of the “Yards,” Montagnard hill people caught between the rival Vietnamese states, is known to only a very few. Erik Rider, a U.S. Army officer from its Criminal Investigation Division, is assigned to a small village near Pleiku, where his task of cutting drug shipments runs into interference from corrupt South Vietnamese officials as well as enemy forces determined to seize the isolated hamlet. Rider’s undercover assignment is not confidential for very long, and his military police duties are forced by circumstances to take second place to leading infantry patrols and mounting ambushes with the valiant support of the Montagnards.
Historical novels rise and fall on an author‘s ability to transport the reader to another time and place. Accurate knowledge of that time and place and seamlessly narrating the account within the milieu is evident here from the opening sequence, when a young woman asks Rider to speak of her father and his role in the war surrounding Rider’s Montagnard village of Cheo Reo. Red Flags is a welcome addition to the historical fiction bookshelves on the Vietnamese conflict.