(YA) Vietnam ""has become a theatre of the absurd,"" Howard Zinn asserts in a book as lucidly devastating as any to appear on the subject. ""We in America still cling to the romance of war that is not really war, but Terry and the Pirates, Dafending the Free World, or LBJ in a Green Beret."" Mr. Zian views the Vietnam theater from the stance of Japan, of the Negro American (of a Viet Cong soldier, one of ours said ""He looks like one of us""), from the viewpoint of history--our self-vision is defective. He reviews our performance with Diem in Saigon, weighs the moral equation of violence (Viet Cong are killing fewer people more discriminately), claims that this has become an American war. On to the analogy of Munich, the domino and containment theories, which he lances: China's actions indicate that her chief concern, like all new nations, is physical security. His conclusion: ""The perspective of history suggests that a United Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh is preferable to the elitist dictatorship of the South, just as Maoist China with all its faults is preferable to the rule of Chiang, and Castro's Cuba to Batista's ."" Finally, ""we need to get accustomed to the idea that there will be more Communist countries in the world, and that this is not necessarily bad ."" History will forgive us if we liquidate a bad venture and compensate in other ways. Mr. Zinn even writes a speech for LBJ to deliver to the nation declaring the war at an end. It is a thoroughgoing Job which deserves attention and which, along with Thich Nhat Hanh's Vietnam. p. 1329, serves to bring the horizon of possible peace before the public, although the route is less probable than the one Schlesinger offers in The Bitter Heritage (p. 51).