The realities of war are brutal for any man, but for a Buddhist like Andrew Waters, they’re unthinkable. And reconciling his serene nature with the savagery of World War II isn’t the only challenge Andrew faces. First, he must overcome the deep prejudice his half-Chinese ancestry evokes from his shipmates, a feat he manages by providing them with the best meals any destroyer crew ever had. Then he falls in love with his superior officer, and the two men struggle to satisfy their growing passion within the confines of the military code of conduct. In a distracted moment, he reveals his sexuality to the crew, and his effort to serve his country seems doomed.
When the ship is destroyed, Andrew and the crew are interned in Changi, a notorious Japanese POW camp. In order to save the life of the man he loves, Andrew agrees to become the commandant's whore. He uses his influence with the commandant to help his crew survive the hideous conditions, but will they understand his sacrifice or condemn him as a traitor?