Histories of Vietnam (about half the book), Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma, focusing on twentieth century political development and stressing the importance of harnessing the Mckong to accelerate needed agricultural development. The Vietnamese conflict is detailed to the establishment of the 1966 election-planning council, and there is an attempt to present alternative points of view; the U.S. position (Johnson has carried the policy of his predecessors to its ""logical conclusion"") is not openly endorsed, but the presence of the U.S. military is never seriously questioned; Communism appears as menacing, but there is the suggestion that democracy is unknown to the Vietnamese and probably ""unworkable."" Current conditions in the other countries are discussed too briefly to be of much value. This is an uneven combination of smiling-peasant stereotypes and occasional myth-debunking, straight reporting and overwritten melodrama, suggesting the possibility of more than one author. It is inferior to Dareff's Story of Vietnam for recent history, to various others for understanding the rest of the region.