Set in the early 1980s, An Emergent State takes place in the imaginary state of Peyenjee in the South Pacific, close to the Coral Sea and not far from Australia. None of the events actually happened. Any of them could have.
Peyenjee is newly independent and uses English and Pidgin as its national languages, for being unable to choose between the hundreds of its own native tongues. The country has any number of problems, mostly related to its Third World poverty.
James Jones is an Englishman in his twenties, recruited to teach English to the Peyenjee police force. The wage offered to him as an expatriate is more than three times greater than that paid to a teacher in the UK, and he is naturally enthusiastic to succeed and to be useful to the country that has gone to such expense to hire him. Arriving at the police college, he soon discovers that all is not as he expected. Indeed, much is not as anyone would expect.