Books: Fandango Diplomatique

PUBLIC FACES—Harold Nicolson—Houghton Mifflin ($2.50).

Five years ago, Harold Nicolson wrote a good book with a bad title (Some People). Public Faces is another such—a more ingenious and less amusing satire on the dignified, dangerous asininities of diplomacy and also a book that deserves a better name. Author Nicolson retails his solemn state secrets as one having had authority. Onetime diplomatist for Britain, he resigned before yielding to the temptation to be indiscreet.

Nub of his fantasy is the diplomatic struggle for possession of Abu Saad, an island in the Persian Gulf which...

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