Books: Beyond the Mea Culpas

TIME OUT OF HAND: REVOLUTION AND REACTION IN SOUTHEAST ASIA by Robert Shaplen. 465 pages. Harper & Row. $8.95.

For most Americans, depressed and confused by what is already the longest, most complicated war in the nation's history, the words Southeast Asia have come to mean just one thing: Viet Nam. Yet in the long run, the political and economic development of the area's other nations, with their 250 million people, may prove more important to the stability of all Asia—and the world—than the bloody ground where the fighting now rages. Asserting this point, Robert Shaplen, The New Yorker's veteran correspondent in...

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