A young ex-Peace Corps hand, who now teaches in Uganda, Mr. Theroux, whose first novel, Waldo (1967), caught his stride, gleefully wallops international politics--Western, Asian, Indian and African--as the Little Man, curled in the pod, balefully watches the blooming of nations. The ways in which Sam Fong, long ago arrived in East Africa from the dubious virtues of his poverty-stricken homeland, is swindled, threatened, and generally done in, are marvellous to behold in their variety and intricacy. Sam Fong was once a devoted carpenter, but British stupidity, African cupidity and Islamic buccaneering force him into an alien trade. The Indian Fakhru obligates Fong with such thoroughness and care that Fong is forever his. Two improbable Americans arrive: Mel, the Alabama Negro ("". . . if he don't loosen up he can take our good will and shove it""); and Bert (""Your average grass-rooter is a tough nut to crack""). The Americans are hot on the trail of a witnessing pro-American Commie Chinese to exhibit in the States, and swoop down on Fong with money which Fakhru neatly deflects. Africans bear down on Asians; two Chinese Maoites spit ""running dog!"" at the dour Fong. Meanwhile Fong, with the weary cynicism of small men everywhere, hopes merely to be left alone--although a windfall is on the way, at the close. The old story told with wiry irreverence and hilarious relevance.