The scene is the fictional Asian country of the title. It is of strategic importance to the U.S., heavily undermined by native communists and determined to be independent after years of French, then U.S., economic domination. (Hey! That's like Viet Nam!) Native guile and corruption are only equalled by American clumsiness in diplomacy and inability to face the idea of Asian respect for practical power. (Hey! That's like the message in the same authors' The Ugly American!) Edward Coldstream, a middleaged American businessman, has for years successfully managed a string of plantations scattered through Sarkhan. Radio contact allows him to stay in touch with EVERYBODY and EVERYTHING. Thaddeus McCauley is an American university professor and the only living occidental expert on all things Sarkhanese. This allows him to know EVERYBODY and EVERYTHING. They are always together. (Hey! That's like the good buddies in books for small boys!) Despite American stupidity in the CIA, which has a director who loathes criticism (Hey! That's like Hoover!) and a meddlesome President who does things by phone (Hey! That's like Johnson!) and ... well, Coldstream and McCauley are going to rescue the Sarkhanese prince who must, by edict of the royal palmist, ascend to the throne. Coldstream gets captured at one point and crucified for a day but, rises again. (Hey! That's like as tasteless as you can get!) Prince is in the jungle monastery, communists are descending from the North, American officials are sitting on their hands while biting their fingernails, the capital is set to riot. In the fetid jungle at the monastery before a heavy-lidded idol stands the prince with a machine gun... (Hey! That's like Terry and the Pirates!) November L.G.