When a mysterious alien spacecraft approaches Earth and demands to speak with the President of the United States, then destroys a large Pacific island to demonstrate its strength and underscore its seriousness, you would expect the President to talk. Problem is, in the late twenty-first century, there is no President-not even a United States. In fact, in this world of the future, China rules the Americas; and, to most people, USA and USSR are just quaint abbreviations in historical dictionaries. Then the aliens prove unreasonable about accepting substitutesso one Anglo rice-cultivator from the Heavenly Grain Collective Farm-near Biloxi, Mississippi-is forced to begin an adventure that will take him from peasant to President, from Pettyman to Spaceman.
Another good book from Frederik Pohl, the master storyteller.