The critically acclaimed New York Times-bestseller and the basis for the Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated film starring Steve McQueen. As a spirit of nationalism inspired by Chiang Kai-shek's leadership begins to sweep through China, the river gunship San Pablo is ordered to patrol the region and to protect US citizens. Jack Holman is a machinist aboard the San Pablo, who has joined the navy in order to avoid jail time. Because he is so fiercely independent, Jake remains a relative loner and is uncomfortable with navy protocol and discipline. McKenna's independent mind chafes against military hierarchy and also ensures that he does not share his shipmates' disdain for the Chinese. Instead, McKenna is fascinated with the culture and the people that surround him and develops emotional bonds that prove quite thorny when the circumstances become more tumultuous and more dire. The perspective of The Sand Pebbles is therefore both panoramic as well as personal. Like Lawrence of Arabia, the tension explored here is between the self as individual against the broader spectrum of social and historical forces against which we are all measured.