In the first week following the fall of South Vietnam, two U.S. ships were fired on and one detained for 36 hours by the Cambodian Navy for intruding six and a half miles from Poulo Wai Island. The Ford administration and the National Security Council termed it ""piracy on the high seas"" and set in motion a Marine assault on a Cambodian island that was known not to harbor the crew, as well as two air strikes against the mainland after Cambodia announced that the crew was being released. Thirty-eight U.S. servicemen were killed, 50 wounded, and an unknown but much larger number of Cambodian deaths inflicted. Rowan, a Far East Bureau Chief for Time, doesn't dent that the affair was a planned provocation--he circumvents the whole question. He states that the Foreign Broadcast Information Service is a CIA outlet, but fails to add that contrary to standard practice it never notified the Defense Mapping Agency of the clash so that the latter could warn other ships; he also forbears from pointing out that the U.S. itself upholds the 12-mile-limit and often fires on incursors. What the book offers is a seabiscuit view of the crew and their four-day tribulations, plus flashbacks to Washington. The crew included the standard ex-Marine pugilist, a comic-relief coward, the loner, the school-of-hard-knocks orphan who made good, and a general belief that the Cambodians would eviscerate the white devils. What the affair meant in terms of human lives, not to mention a potential international confrontation, is left unexamined. Rowan steamed back to the U.S. with the Mayaguez and even interviewed the president, but this is not anyone's real inside story--it's ""white"" propaganda, the kind used to confuse when outright falsehoods won't be accepted.