World

The Palace File by Nguyen Tien Hung and Jerrold L. Schecter (Harper & Row, 542 pp., $22.95) The literature on Vietnam, so scant in the 1960s, when it was most needed, is now swelling toward flood tide. Much of what is being produced is either redundant or merely memoiristic; but one can now add The Palace File to the relatively short list of important books on this grim and complicated subject.

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Pop Goes Elie Wiesel

"I was of course very stunned and grateful, and melancholy," Elie Wiesel told the The New York Times about his initial reaction to winning the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize. "I fell back into the mood of Yom Kippur, serious reflection about my parents and grandparents. It me half an hour to get out of it." But when Wiesel finally came to, he told a press conference in New York, "There are no coincidences. If it [winning the prize] happens after Yom Kippur here, then some of my friends and myself have prayed well." Actually, they did a little more than pray.

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In the Middle East, as in much of the world, if a ruler can ward off the assassin’s hand, he need  not govern effectively or justly to remain in power. But the career of Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi demonstrates that the key to power in a place like Libya is not just brute force. It is the ability to mesmerize the mob. The mob is fickle, easily roused and easily disenchanted. With minimum expectations of what life might otherwise offer in a rationally organized economy and free polity, it feeds on slogans and fantasies.

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Drawing The Line

Reagan's bombing of Libya was effective precisely because it combined a show of superior force with prudent restraint.

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Next Stop, Angola

The next battlefield over the so-called Regan Doctrine is the decade-old consensus that America should stay out of the civil war in Angola. Based on the belief that the United States should assist anti-Communist freedom fighters everywhere, elements within the Reagan administration and in Congress are urging that the U.S. supply as much as $200 million in aid to Jonas Savimbi's anti-Marxist guerrilla group, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).

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Griefbusters

We can't prevent earthquakes. But technology and techniques now exist to save lives after such tragedies, and that is why it has been so disturbing to witness trained rescue workers arriving in Mexico City too late to help many trapped in collapsed buildings. Members of a French team complained bitterly that they could have saved dozens, if not hundreds, of additional lives if they had been called to the scene promptly after the disaster struck.

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Buds of Freedom

Many of China’s writers were less than enthusiastic when they heard there was to be a national Writers’ Conference in December 1984.

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Old Habits

In this space a few weeks ago I published some words critical of Peter Jennings, the anchorman for ABC's "World News Tonight." My views provoked a good deal of mail in Jennings's defense—but none of it from ordinary TV-watching citizens.

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Ten years after America's withdrawal from Vietnam, President Reagan has made the recovery of 2,477 American soldiers "the highest national priority." In June 1983 a division of the Defense Intelligence Agency was assigned a large full-time staff to collect and evaluate information about POWs and MIAs. Last summer Reagan signed a proclamation designating the third Friday in July as the annual National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

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Wogs and Louts

Oxford: In “violent” Britain, plagued with soccer hooliganism, one of the more peaceful spots for a summer Saturday afternoon picnic is the bank of the River Thames where it winds through the Oxfordshire countryside.

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