Having been U.S. Ambassador to Poland in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and the USSR during the Nixon-Brezhnev ""summit"" in 1972, Beam should have a lot to say that's worth hearing. Instead, he merely reaffirms the simple truth that, with few exceptions, ambassadors play a very minor role in U.S. foreign policy. Beam's ""eyewitness"" accounts of Warsaw and Prague add nothing to what is already known about the course of those ""events,"" since--claiming to have had no advance knowledge of them--he simply recounts what he saw. As if to make up for the dearth of revelations, he tries his hand at meditating on the significance of what occurred during his various tenures, but far from representing anything ""unique,"" his thoughts run toward the standard diplomatic endorsement of detente combined with a firm and distrustful anti-Communism. Beam may have been in the right places at the right time, but he is not the ideal man to write about it.