Salgon, ""a time of cocoon"" and compromise midway between 1945 and 1955, and the negotiations and equivocations among an assorted group of internationals of uncertain status and mixed intentions illustrate an incident in the cold war between the Communist Vietminh and the French sponsored Vietnamese. But over and above the remote, and perhaps indifferent issue of indochina and her abandonment, it points a political finger at the world at large with the admonition that ""the neutrality of procrastination brings on the tyrant"" -- a lesson which may still be learned on all frontiers. Adam Patch, an American with consular status, is alone aware of the dangerous potential of the Vietminh- while the French administrators pursue their policy of detached ""attentisme"". Approached by a Vietnamese doctor, Tran, who hopes to secure medicines- and food to cure the ""malady of doubt"" in what he calls the indefinite country which the Vietminh threatens but has not secured, Patch re-directs him to the E.C.A., who turn him down. Rebuked for this contact with Tran who has conveniently been found politically suspect, Patch witnesses the expected outcome as the Communists make their point with guns and grenades, Tran is killed, and Patch is removed to a less sensitive sphere.... Robert Shaplen, whom many will remember for his Free Love and Heavenly Sinners. Is an exceedingly effective writer and his novel is an uncompromising commentary and censure for the serious reader. Limited.