Books: Ticktacktoe

DOUBLETALK by Gerard Smith Doubleday; 556 pages; $17.95

The title has a double meaning. Doubletalk refers first to the windy Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, now approaching their twelfth year and fourth American Administration. Gerard Smith recounts numerous instances of frustration in the course of his 2½-year stint as the principal talker on the American side during the first Nixon Administration, but he also argues energetically that the negotiations have become a salutary fixture in the superpower relationship. For even when talks are stalled and not producing agreements, they serve as a safety valve...