This full-scale examination of the Gulf of Tonkin affair is obviously intended to be political dynamite. Goulden, a veteran Washington journalist specializing in national security affairs, takes nearly everyone involved to task as he garners all available evidence to support a strong suspicion that: (1) the alleged ""second"" attack by North Vietnam on the U.S. destroyers Maddox and Turner Joy, which led to the decision to bomb the North, actually never took place; (2) the military. commanders in the Pacific, whose conduct ""can charitably be described as astounding,"" failed to relay certain vital information to Washington that might have presented the first attack in a less provocative light; (3) the Johnson Administration ""acted hastily, upon incomplete and misleading information, and then refused to admit error,"" shrouding the whole episode in a veil of deception and distortion. Goulden divides his investigation into three sections: ""The Illusion,"" a report of the Tonkin events exactly as related to Congress and public that August; ""The Reality,"" what actually happened; and ""The Revelation,"" how Fulbright's Foreign Relations Committee, all too ex post facto, ""exposed the Johnson Adminstration's duplicity and used Tonkin as a starting point for the first serious study ever undertaken of the division of war-making powers between the President and Congress."" Goulden relies rather heavily on an exclusive interview with Seaman Patrick N. Park of the Maddox, but his case holds sufficient water to represent a serious challenge to the responsible parties to just try and wash themselves clean.