Press: Wheatmark (March 15, 2012)
Author Name:Babb, Frank
Hot Times in Panamá is the story of a Missouri farm boy's journey to adulthood in the 1950s during the Korean War and the expanding Cold War with Soviet Russia and their influences on his life and the lives of persons he came to know and work with.
He was too young to serve in World War II but just the right age for the Korean War. When on the first day of his high school senior year in 1949 Frank Blake chose a Spanish class instead of a French class, he didn't know his choice would take him as a secret agent to the backwaters of Central America.
There Cold War tensions had deadly consequences hidden from the public attention Americans regularly gave to events in Europe and Asia.
The following year Frank passes the deferment test that enables him to stay in college until graduation in 1954, upon which he joins the army. After basic training he is posted to the counterintelligence school in Baltimore and then to Panamá where he meets Julia, an enigmatic Radcliffe graduate he thinks works for the embassy.
When he's assigned to a team for a clandestine operation that's dependent on Julia, the war turns personal and dirty.
After the mission she vanishes from his life. But Frank's thoughts of the mysterious Julia persist, along with the realization he had become romantically attracted to her. Over the years Frank's efforts to find Julia or information about her are fruitless--until years later when he encounters at an American Alpine Club dinner a person he had once met over drinks and cigars in Panamá.
His dinner companion had known Julia in Cambridge and had worked with her on a secret assignment in Guatemala but had also lost track of her.
Frank longs to see Julia again, but he won't discover why she disappeared until he receives a letter from her almost forty-five years later that answers all Frank's questions--except one. Interwoven with the Julia mystery are M*A*S*H-like stories of the lives, on duty and off, of the young men who temporarily served serve as secret agents in the backwaters of Central America, where outside the glare of public attention, Cold War tensions lead to deadly consequences. They came from colleges and universities across the country with degrees in various subjects.
They didn't consider themselves professional soldiers, but they desired to perform their duties to the standards set by their Office of Strategic Services (OSS) predecessors and outperform their CIA competitors.
From the Author
I grew up during the Great Depression on a 140-acre farm about seven miles northwest of Maryville, a county seat town of 5,000 inhabitants in northwest Missouri.
We lived with my paternal grandfather and my father's schoolteacher sisters spent the summer months with us.
I was blessed with books and magazines and a grandfather, mother, and aunts to read them to me. Whether inherited or a habit, I've continued to read fiction and nonfiction on a daily basis even when I'd spent the day reading law books or legal documents as a lawyer.
During World War II, our Philco radio, books, magazines, and newsreels at the Saturday night movies provided our information and entertainment.
From the Back Cover
Shortly after the end of the Korean War, Missouri farm boy Frank Blake is drafted and posted to the Army Counterintelligence School.
He expects to go to Korea with the rest of his classmates, but because his high school girlfriend convinced him to take a Spanish class with her instead of French, he's sent to Panamá, assigned to a CIC unit that engages in clandestine operations.
At a party he meets Julia, an attractive young woman he thinks works for the Embassy.
When Frank's team is assigned an operation that depends on her, his war gets personal and dirty.
After their mission, however, she vanishes.
Frank longs to see Julia again, but he won't discover why she disappeared until he receives a letter from her almost forty-five years later.
Interwoven with this mystery are the stories of the civilian soldiers who temporarily serve as secret agents in the backwaters of Central America, where outside the glare of public attention, Cold War tensions lead to deadly consequences.
About the Author
I served for two years as a special agent in the Army Counter Intelligence Corps in Panamá in the 1950s.
While in the Army I decided to pursue a legal career instead of becoming an English professor as I originally planned.
On graduation from Harvard Law School I joined a large Chicago law firm, specializing in mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance transactions, and general corporate law for thirty-two years.
For the next ten years I was a venture capital investor, a field I had enjoyed while practicing law.
Events in my life and the lives of persons I've known or learned about have inspired the fictional stories I now enjoy writing.
Upon reflecting on the "stories" told by the elders in my family, I've come to realize that, as one ages, "fact" and "fiction" become harder to distinguish.
Travel,Central America,Panama,Politics & Social Sciences,Politics & Government,Specific Topics,Intelligence & Espionage
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