In early 1970 a small plane, en route to Angkor Wat, mysteriously disappears over the Cambodian jungle. Piloted by an American hippie, the passengers are Bill Bolton, a US businessman, his wife Marjorie, their guide a young Englishwoman, and a Cambodian 'old hand', a Frenchman.
Stranded helplessly in the jungle, the westerners are found by local peasants, and taken to the relative safety of their own veritable Shangri La. Here, cut off from the outside world, they find an enchanting Buddhist world, full of laughter and festivals; a gentle, sensitive people without greed, violence, or too much work.
As the party adjust to the lotus-eating culture, life presents excitement,pleasure - even love. And an opportunity to bring modern methods to a backward way of life. But a darker, brutal presence threatens to destroy their paradise. The Vietnam war is spilling across Cambodia's borders, and an insurgency is on the rise that will become the Khmer Rouge. Cambodia must change, but in whose image?
Gripping and beautifully written, A Model American is a multi-dimensional parable showing the American character abroad and its effects when used to 'improve' an ancient, alien culture. For many, it will greatly resonate with what is happening in the world today.
The shell of the novel is an adventure story, but its kernel is an exploration of the national attitudes and personal qualities that shape people's responses to world affairs.
A parable of modern-day American interventionism, this story literally pitches its protagonists into the fray.
Much more than a mere jungle survival story . . . as page-turning adventure fiction, A MODEL AMERICAN scores highly. As a warning against the perils of continued globalisation, it deserves to be well read.