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Boat People is a panoramic novel of greed and compassion, violence and family love, desperation and hope. It is September 1981, the high tide of boat people flight from Vietnam. From the Mekong Delta port of Rach Gia, one boat, crammed with fishermen, farmers, political refugees, and urban hustlers, runs a 300-mile gauntlet of pirates and storms for the safe haven of Songkhla Refugee Camp. Here the survivors meet the West in the form of religious idealists and burnt-out aid workers. Some boat people are drawn to black market gangs; others to public service or official corruption. Factions plot against each other and grapple for advantage. Covering the refugee beat for the American Consulate, Dan Swartz is torn between being a cynical observer and a reluctant participant in the drama of the camp. Nguyen Xuan Tong is torn too, between loyalty to his gang and his love for Le Thuy Linh. Her protector, the beautiful Huynh Thuc Quan, plays her would-be lover Fred Butterworth against gang leader Huyan Anh. As tensions in the camp flash into violence, both Dan Swartz and Nguyen Xuan Tong are forced to make a painful moral choice: in a snake's nest of deception and counterplot, where do they stand?