“Laos, 1961. The Communist Pathet Lao threatens a Laos takeover with Russian military support. Newly elected US President John F. Kennedy contemplates military intervention in the small Southeast Asia country. Aware that military confrontation could escalate into nuclear war, Kennedy elects to fight a covert war using CIA surrogate assets.
The intelligence agency chooses as its surrogates for the war Meo tribesmen and college-age US Forest Service firefighters, smoke jumpers without military experience.
For newly-recruited smoke jumpers Thanasis, Charlie, and Dog, the CIA’s offer brings excitement, damn good money, and good times at Lulu’s in Vientiane. It’s a sweet adventure for the three young men until they realize the CIA is willing to sacrifice both smoke jumpers and Meo to control Laos.
Based on battles and events recalled by surviving smoke jumpers, Kickers involves readers in a thirteen-year secret war most Americans don’t know was fought. Similar in tone to Philip Caputo’s A Rumor of War, Patrick Lee’s story of betrayal and covert ops sets a new standard for Cold War novels.”
Patrick Lee is a former smoke jumper who made twenty-five parachute jumps into the Idaho Primitive Area fighting forest fires. After leaving jumping to study law he began to hear of smoke jumper deaths in Laos, including those of men who had been his jump partners. Interviews of surviving smoke jumpers about their CIA experiences in Laos convinced Lee their stories needed to be told. He incorporated core elements of their recollections in Kickers. After forty-five years practicing law, Lee now lives on a ranch in the Sawtooth Mountains of Central Idaho.