David Thompson is a former Vietnam War conscientious objector in Paris on a quest to find himself in the early days of 1977. When he befriends an Iranian and an Afghan and is invited to return with them to their countries, his quest slowly becomes a descent into his own personal hell. On the road from Europe to the East he encounters Kurdish bandits in the eastern mountains of Turkey, becomes involved with an underground group opposed to the Shah in Iran, escapes to Afghanistan, and later suffers extreme sickness on the streets of Delhi and Calcutta. Although continually searching for the happiness and identity he could not find in the U.S., he cannot easily shed his American past. Throughout the journey he is hounded by the demons of memory, particularly that of his father, a World War Two hero who disowned David and died while David was still in prison. The journey itself becomes a physical manifestation of his struggle to achieve reconciliation with his own conscience.