A veteran international reporter runs through the whole Vietnam war, here and there, with a generally liberal point of view: too bad Ho wasn't dealt with as a nationalist, applause for the Pentagon Papers' claim that the CIA was not only shrewd but pacific, and lots of sideswipes at Richard Nixon. Reading the book is somewhat like consuming miles of Time essays on the climate of our age; on one page alone we find black is beautiful, Joseph Conrad and Proudhon, Old Left and New Left, war dissenters and parole boards, law-and-order and Puerto Ricans, college ""bums"" and of course bureaucracy, technology, and consciousness. The vertiginous diorama proceeds through Sputnik and Castro and Tom Dooley and The Ugly American and Dump Johnson. This is not to say the book lacks material on the war itself (Kendrick is quite clear and forceful about immediate post-World War II maneuvers, for example, and on the subject of the Diem coup he claims the CIA was playing both sides). But the background montage overwhelms us and itself with ultimately little more evocative effect than the 1967 Top Twenty.