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A journalist sent to cover the outbreak of civil war in a former colony, where the discovery of oil has led to a breakaway movement in one province, is quickly plunged into the conflicts and corruption of a divided and underdeveloped country. While he reports on public events his personal life is transformed by his encounter with the young woman of mixed race who becomes his photographer. From her he learns how difficult it is to think and act rationally in a society where religion still has powerful influence. And when he gets close to the charismatic leader of the revolt he sees how personality can determine political decisions. The story may sound familiar, but the ex-colony is Britain and the journalist from the former imperial power is Japanese - in an 'alternative history' scenario where eastern Asia has been given the historical role of western Europe. Seeing a world stage on which the actors have changed costumes may give the reader a new perspective on real events in recent decades.