Morrow led the platoon cautiously up the narrow draw in the green jungle twilight; the warning sense that usually kept him out of trouble was up--enemies were near--but today the officers were too focused on their plan to pay him any attention. Steep, rocky slopes boxed him in like a rat sneaking between a lion's paws, hoping it wouldn't wake up and swat him. Dark fissures among the ledges stared down at him like cats' eyes and he could feel them watching him, waiting to spring their trap--the lion was awake.
PFC Dan Morrow, the point man for an infantry company in Vietnam, has "whiskers"--an unusual sense for the presence of the enemy. Under the guidance of a seasoned platoon sergeant he begins to rise through the ranks, facing brushes with death and the loss of close comrades as he battles a determined enemy and the often-senseless incongruities of Army life in a harsh world of monsoon rains and intense tropical heat. An act of kindness sparks a friendship with a Vietnamese girl which develops slowly for a time, then blossoms into a deeper relationship for which he is unprepared. He advances to squad leader, then platoon sergeant, leading combat operations, mentoring a green and sometimes balky lieutenant, and striving to keep his men alive while sorting out his feelings for the girl who has become a central figure in his life. As his tour of duty nears its end he is thrust into a soldier's worst nightmare--being wounded and left behind in hostile territory. Weakened by pain and loss of blood, he has little to rely on but faith and inner fortitude as he struggles to elude capture and fight his way to safety.