Books: The Good American

A FOREST OF TIGERS (373 pp.)—Robert Shaplen—Knopf ($3.95).

It is a lot easier to be a political novelist than Secretary of State. Robert Shaplen, onetime correspondent in the Far East, demonstrates in A Forest of Tigers that the novelist holds cards the diplomat could never hope to draw. The proving ground is Indo-China around 1950, when the Communists had fully shown their hand but had not yet begun their big push. How was the U.S. to handle its difficult French allies, faction-ridden Viet Nam, the everlasting intrigue, the demagogic appeal of the Reds?

Similar questions have been asked in a handful of books...

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