A political survey of contemporary Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Burma, all in one volume, is an ambitious undertaking. These writers have attempted it together once before, in a work titled Southeast Asia Among the World Powers, unfortunately with no better success. They were over-optimistic about the future of these new countries then, and they are perhaps excessively timid now. Granted, the Vietnam war and massive U.S. involvement in the area make assessments a hazardous business; but ponderous, imprecise prose makes vagueness even more tiresome. The better sections here are the ones on Laos and Cambodia, two countries so little studied by Western scholars to date that new contributions of any sort are welcome. The final chapters, on international relations in general and U.S. policies and aims in particular, do have some valuable material to offer the diligent reader, if he manages to come that far and doesn't lose his way completely in all the well-but-on-the-other-hands.