The Mark is at once an historical memoir, a coming-of-age story, and an exploration of the workings of journalism. In 1972, Leslie was a brash and ambitious 24-year-old with little experience in journalism and none in warfare. Through a trick of fate— his predecessor committed suicide— Leslie landed a job with the Los Angeles Times, and thus undertook a life-transforming experience. By the end of his two years in Indochina, Leslie had become an award-winning veteran combat reporter. He was the first American journalist to enter and report from Viet Cong territory in South Vietnam. He penetrated the prison ward of a South Vietnamese province hospital, and described a scene of bedlam as convulsing torture victims relived their trauma. Aided by a U.S. government source who over a period of several months gave him classified documents from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, he showed how American officials covered up corruption and ceasefire violations. After reporting on a smuggling syndicate led by South Vietnamese generals, he was expelled from South Vietnam, and went on to Cambodia, where he covered the collapse of the American-supported regime there. By the time he left Indochina, he had acquired what he and some of his colleagues called "the mark"— a craving for the intensity of war, a conviction that he was most alive in a war zone.