Gabrielle Paluch tells the improbable but true story of the oft-mythologized gender-queer warlord Olive Yang, who pioneered opium trade routes in the Golden Triangle in the 1950s with help from the CIA. Descended from Chinese nobility, Olive rebelled against gender norms and also the Burmese government as the fearsome commander of a powerful private army that at one time dominated the regional drug trade. Both vilified and revered, Olive emerged as a champion of citizenship rights, national security threat, a shamefully gay seductress -- and some said, a U.S. intelligence asset.
Once an infamous character at the center of an important front in the Cold War, Olive had largely been forgotten until a few years ago. Determined to ascertain Olive's true identity, Gabrielle set out on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to find Olive shortly before her passing in 2017. Reported from declassified CIA intelligence documents, archival material, and interviews, Gabrielle intertwines her quest to find Olive with the story of Olive's family. Gabrielle explores how widely repeated fiction about the legendary anti-hero, reveal truths about gender, identity, family; as well as the U.S. interventions that fueled the modern narcotics trade, and set the foundation for coup-makers in Myanmar today.