Former presidential Press Secretary Salinger has utilized what are obviously some memorable vibes from high-level crisis talks in this long novel about a model South American country, Santa Clara, and Red China. Santa Clara of course is reminiscent of Cuba and the press statements fairly chime with veracity. Mr. Salinger's spokesman for responsible diplomacy is Sam Hood, the U.S. Ambassador to Santa Clara. Like his counterpart, Red China's representative Han Li-wong, Hood hopes to ease the stance of his hard-line, simplistic government policy. When Santa Clara's President Luchengo is threatened by guerrilla forces and while Chinese land-based missile components are being shipped in quietly, Hood warns his President. But the administration action (the President is a parochial dunderhead) or lack of action is based on domestic political tides rather than a larger, if pragmatic, view. There's a well-placed tip from Han to Hood and White House efforts finally de-escalate. A band of self-exiled Mafiosi add to the confusion and supply some dark comic relief. . . . The cabinet and consular in-chat is convincing but there's a good deal too much of it.