Moonlight Hotel (Hardcover)

By Scott Anderson

Doubleday, 9780385515566, 384pp.

Publication Date: May 16, 2006



David Richards is a mid-level diplomat assigned to the sleepy Middle Eastern kingdom of Kutar. Richards spends his days monitoring small development projects and his nights attending embassy cocktail parties and bedding various visiting American women and diplomats’ wives.

The time is the early 1980s, when the American Empire has begun to tentatively flex its muscles once again. Kutar is a diplomatic backwater, a former British colony, barely a blip on the State Department’s radar back in Washington. For centuries desultory tribal conflict has flared sporadically in the arid hills hundreds of miles from the coastal capital of Laradan, and as the book opens rumors of a new skirmish there reach the city’s inhabitants. As always, the residents of Laradan ignore the stories, but this time something is different: The Americans decide to do something about it.

As any casual student of geopolitics might guess, this is bad news for the people of Kutar. Urged on by a Kurtzian American military advisor named Colonel Munn, the little-used Kutaran army marches into the hills. In quick order they are decimated, and with stunning rapidity the heights above Laradan are occupied by a rebel force possessed of the government’s abandoned artillery. Soon the Americans, and all other foreigners, are ordered from the country and leave the people of Laradan to their fate.

For his own deeply personal reasons, David chooses to stay on in the besieged city, and moves into the Moonlight Hotel, a crumbling colonial dinosaur. There he is joined by an eclectic assortment of other foreigners, including a senior British diplomat, an acid-tongued Romanian countess, and Amira, an aristocratic young woman who previously spurned David’s romantic advances. Together, this small community tries to maneuver over the radically-changed landscape of the beleaguered city, while holding out hope that the outside world might yet come to its rescue. Then the shooting begins in earnest.

Praise For Moonlight Hotel

Praise for Triage

“Haunting . . . into the sere landscapes of a Hemingwayesque novel about men at war comes [a] conscience straight out of Graham Greene.”
New York Times

Triage will make your palms sweat . . . Despite the brutality of battle and the terror of surviving, it is not a novel about despair; it is about hope . . . tightly plotted and unflinchingly unsentimental.”
USA Today

“Reminiscent of Hemingway, this is a superb effort reflecting a real understanding of consequences of war on the psyche. Essential.”
Library Journal

“Scott Anderson writes with grace and intelligence.”
Washington Post

Praise for The Man Who Tried to Save the World

“One of the most important books to be published since the fall of the Berlin Wall . . . A great epic mystery of our day.”
New York Observer

“A mystery story, straight out of a plot from a novel by John le Carre.”
New York Times Book Review

“Put your thrillers aside: One of the most gripping accounts of spycraft and gamesmanship in today’s wars . . . can be found in veteran war correspondent Scott Anderson’s nonfiction account of the life and disappearance of international relief worker Fred Cuny.”

“Entirely worthy of its magnificent subject.”
San Francisco Chronicle