The book depicts the life of many persons after 1975 and before the Communist change in 1995. The author did not want to leave his country, but everything changed. He was forced to go to reeducation camp. After his release, the Communists did not allow him to return to his career as a high school math teacher, as other officers originated from high school teachers. He worked instead as a farmer and fisherman to feed his children.
He built a small, rickety, four-horsepower-engine boat, then organized a group of people to attempt an escape from Vietnam.