June 1944: A recon flight is shot down over the Japanese-held island of Biak, soon to be the next jump in MacArthur’s leapfrogging across New Guinea. Major Jock Miles, US Army—the crashed plane’s intelligence officer—must lead the handful of survivors to safety. It’s a tall order for a man barely recovered from a near-crippling leg wound. Gaining the grudging help of a Dutch planter who has evaded the Japanese since the war began, Jock discovers just how little MacArthur’s staff knows about the terrain and defenses of the island they’re about to invade.
The American invasion of Biak promptly bogs down, and the GIs rename the debacle Operation Fishwrapper, a joking reference to their worthless maps. The infantry battalion Jock once led quickly suffers the back-to-back deaths of two commanders, so he steps into the job once again, ignoring the growing difficulties with his leg. When his Aussie wife Jillian tracks down the refugee mapmaker who can refine those fishwrappers into something of military value, the tide of battle finally turns in favor of the Americans. But for Jock, the victory imparts a life-changing blow.