Books: The Historical Ho

HO CHI MINH: A POLITICAL BIOGRAPHY by Jean Lacouture. 313 pages. Random House. $5.95.

For most of his career, Ho Chi Minh has been playing a kind of political character part: power disguised as innocence. A harmless-looking old party with a ridiculous beard and a peasant's jacket, the leader of North Viet Nam conjures up for many people the image of "a Franciscan Gandhi" or "Chaplin at his most affecting." So says Le Monde Journalist Jean Lacouture, who adds: "This is a man so fragile that he seems to survive only by the sheer...

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