Two Los Angeles Times newsmen have clipped and snipped together this deft chronicle of LBJ's schizophrenic policy in Vietnam. For the sake of drama, the events of December, 1966 (the bombing of Hanoi), precede earlier moves. But the main service of a book of this kind is the illumination of news by time. Given what happened after, the failure of the early Marigold peace initiative assumes a new clarity: while peace talks flare, the war escalates. Miscalculation, alas, is the distinguishing characteristic of the Administration's florid diplomacy. The authors use news items, testimony, interviews (mainly from unnamed informed sources), and scuttlebutt to demonstrate that the Administration has steadfastly ""missed opportunities"" to achieve either peace, negotiations, meaningful talks, or even a propaganda advantage. The book goes up to the current peace talks and the news will take over from here.