Beneath this masterful display of detailed knowledge, one theme has priority: Latin America is important to the United States mainly as a prize to be won and held in the great Cold War tournament. Mr. Szulc, the New York Times crack reporter, reviews the recent history of South and Central America particularly as the social and political potentials for revolution there affect Washington-Moscow relations. With most of his attention focussed on the current phenomena and future threats of Fidelismo, he retells the complex of events which began around the time of the ill-starred Nixon Tour and which led to our too-late, too-timid gamble in the Alliance for Progress! His diagnosis is far from optimistic; ""the dollars and cents of the Alliance for Progress are not enough"" as both President Kennedy and from the other side of it, Premier Castro have repeatedly stressed: ""in the final analysis, the battle for Latin America must be fought in the field of ideas"". And so far, as this author takes considerable pains to make clear to us, we have found few ideas of our own to pit against those of the Communists, and none at all which appeal to the people directly involved.