One of the book's themes is about race and how we get entangled in a web of posturing, insecurity and correctness. It reminds me of an experience I had many years ago in the Algerian desert.
I was an oilfield engineer working for a large multinational and I had a French trainee with me at the time. I don't remember his name but let's call him Luc. We arrived at the well late one afternoon and as was customary, went to find the client, the Company Man, to discuss the surveys we were going to run. I didn't think anything of taking Luc along with me, he was fresh out of school and eager to learn. I pushed open the door of the Company Man's portacabin and was immediately overwhelmed by the man's greeting. Not towards me mind you, but to Luc. I simply couldn't get a word in. The Company Man, who was just a little lighter skinned than me, had a mental picture of what a highly trained engineer running a multi million dollar operation should look like. And in that picture the engineer was undeniably white, and therefore must be Luc. Not me. I was just the roughneck showing my white boss where to find the man in charge of the rig. So I walked out, which wasn't really fair on Luc, because he didn't have a clue about what we were there for. I'd probably do the same again.