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terial needs of the global poor axe addressed. As Cox puts it: “Both movements are strongly antimodernist; to understand them ... book? to a to of of...

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BOOKS VIETNAM: A HISTORY by Stanby Karnow (Viking Ress; 750 pp.; $20.00) William E . Colby

This blockbuster of a book, both in size and scope-Vietnam from prehistory to today-marks a major advance in writings about America’s tangled and tragic involvement in that turbulent country. During the war a host of books appeared, some reporting various facets of the situation, some trying to give coherent meaning to the jumbled and contradictory facts that swirled through the news accounts and official reports; Frances Fitzgerald’s Fire in the Luke, David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brighest, and Bernard Fall’s and Robert Thompson’s series of reports and critiques are only a sampling. As Americans, and particularly servicemen, returned from Vietnam duty, some of the more articulate among thqn produced fictional or factional accounts of the combat experience, such as Michael Herr’s Dispatches and the film Apocalypse Now. We continue to be flooded with now-ittan-be-told books based on hitherto classified material or giving alternate interpretations of particular developments; among these are, of course, thePentagon Papers, now including the negotiating volumes edited by George C. Herring, recently published by the University of Texas Press as The Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War. Even better known are the memoirs of President Nixon. Henry Kissinger, General Westmoreland, and others. Then there are Peter Braestrup’s analyses of mediacoverage of the 1968Tet attack; William Shawcross’s polemic on Cambodia, Sideshow;Frank Snepp’s Decent Interval on the fall of Saigon; Archimedes Patti’s Why Vietnam? regretting that the United States dropped the option of dealing with Ho Chi Minh as a Tito in 1945; and Arnold Isaac’s Without Honor about the final months of America’s involvement in Vietnam. Among all these,Karnow’s Viet” leads the field in the effort to provide a comprehensive account of that controversial war, in part by reaSOn of the unique assets he brings to the task. Kamow’s concern with Viemam began in the early 195Os, when he was reporting from Paris the French agony over Dien Bien Phu. It continued for twenty years, during which time he served as a 24

correspondent in Asia for Time-Life and later for the Washington Posr. His book benefits from his research and from contemporary interviews and reports of visits both to battlefields and to the scenes of the various coups. Karnow visited Vietnam again for seven weeks in 1981 to interview many of America’s erstwhileenemies, finding them surprisingly frank in their admission of North Vietnam’s deliberateprogram not only to take the South but to manipulate American opinion to make that goal possible. Finally, his reportorial skills were reinforced by the experience of working simultaneously on the book and on a thirteen-part television show airedby the Public Broadcasting System in the fall of 1983. The result is a remarkably readable book. Out of the incredible tangle of people and events in settings as diverse as the muddy outposts of the Mekong Delta and the Oval Office, Kamow weaves an interesting t a p estry. His clear word pictures, sharp selection of dialogue, and faithful reflection of the flow of events keep the reader’s anention focused on the drama of debate, dispute, and ambiguity. without miring him in the swamp of stultifying detail that often suffocated contemporary participants. He lays bare the frustrationof Lyndon Johnson over the North Vietnamese refusal to be diverted from their stubborn belief in ultimate success, despite the devastating power of the United States and the huge costs to both peoples. He gives full play to h e drama of decision-making in Washington, which was profoundly complicated by the recalcitrance or the weaknesses of the South Vietnamese as well as by the struggles for position and the problems of conscience among the Americans involved. Kamow’s book will be the benchmark against which subsequent attempts to explain the American experience in Viemam will be judged. And yet one must admit to flaws-which stem perhaps from the very source of the book’s strength: its journalistic nature. The structureis dramatic. Karnow devotes about half the volume, some threehundred pages. to the buildup period from 1960 to 1968 and only a hundred to the seven years that

followebincluding the withdrawal of the Americans, the tests of strengthof the South Vietnamese, and the final fall. Karnow’s postwar interviews lead to an even-handed recognition of North Vietnamese failings and harshness, but the disdain for South Vietnam’s governments and armed forces that was prevalent among journalists during the war continues unabated. This is in spite of the postwar evidence that many in the South preferred their rule to that of the victors-even to the extent of risking death in fleets of leaky boats. Despite Kamow’s disclaimer, there is a tone of inevitability to the account rather than a focus on the critical decision points at which different outcomes might have occurred. This leaves the reader vaguely dissatisfied: Can the enormous expenditure of blood, treasure, effort, and prestige have left us no real lesson except not to do it again? If we are to improve on that sort of simplistic conclusion from the years in Vietnam, it appears we must await more reflective analyses of the experience. From these we may derive more refined judgments of what was wise and what was not. IVY

RELIGION IN THE SECULAR CITY: TOWARD A POSTMODERN THEOLOGY by Harvey Cox (Simon and Schuster; 304 pp.; $16.95) Joseph A . Varacalli

Twenty years after the book that made him famous, Harvey Cox has “come to believe that the great era of modem theology, of which what is loosely called ‘liberal theology’. ..was the most characteristicexpression, is drawing to a close, just as the modern era itself is ending.” Where, he asks, do we go from the SecularCity? The answer depends on which paradigm of social change underlies one’s thought. Of the numerous paradigms available, two are presently vying for supremacy: the Marxist and the “classical European.” Those who, likc Cox, believe that the internal contradictions of late capitalismwill soon bring us to a new stage in world history must answer the question with a compatible “postmodern” theology. Those who, like the present reviewer, are skeptical that Western civilization is in its death throes will answer: Nowhere in particular. There aren’t many opportunities for stepping to right or left in the classical paradigm, especially as formulated by Max Weber. The movement from “traditional” to “modem”

is a movement along a one-way street, and the implications for theology are quite different from the implications Cox unfolds. In the final analysis, theological thinkers must place their bets on one of these two competing worldviews. Since Cox has placed his bet on the disappearance of life as we “secular” Westemers know it, the future lies with the virtuous popular struggles of the oppressed of the Third World. Evidence for this rejection of the secularism of the West may be seen in the appearance of neo-traditional religious groupings and in the reassertion of religion as a political force. Though one example of this is the rise of fundamentalist Protestantism, more important for Cox is the creation of “base communities,” inspired originally by Latin American liberation theology, where the spiritual and material needs of the global poor axe addressed. As Cox puts it: “Both movements are strongly antimodernist; to understand them is to understand why ‘modern religion’ and its theological rationale seem fated for dissolution.” Cox prefers the base communities: “I do not believe fundamentalism has much to offer a postmodem theology.” Cox envisions a new Christian reformation, a new theology rising not from the

existing and decadent intellectual centers of the West “but from the bottom and from the edges.” Readers might be interested to know how Cox understands h e role that sherry-sipping Harvard theologians will play in the revolution to come. placing, as he does, such faith in the inner motivation and social discontent of the proletariat. As he sees it, this new theology “cannot be successfully formulated unless the modem liberal legacy is appropriated and incorporated. Only a theology that has taken the modem age seriously will be able to take seriously what is coming next. No one can move beyond the secular city who has not first passed through it.”Cox apparently sets for himself and his followers the crucial task of bridging the gap between the old and the new theologies. Indeed, by now proposing a more relevant theology, Cox is implicitly claiming for himself a crucial involvement in no less than two watershed theological eras. Not bad for less than a lifetime! Cox explains the initial rise and eventual fall of liberal theology in a display of bold theorizing. At its inception it served its purpose: emancipation from the circumscribed theologies of traditional societies. Given the failure of modern s o c i e t i e d y which Cox presumably means modern, democratic,

capitalist societies-to establish a sufficient measure of social, economic, and religious justice, liberal theology, “once part of the solution,” has become “part of the problem.” The “charisma” has become “routinized” and, hence, part of an oppressive status quo. “The values we rightly associate withthemodernage-the ‘liberty, equality. and fraternity’ of the French Revolutionare all endangered today not by the dead hand of tradition but by modemity itself, and they can be salvaged only by moving beyond it.” The “classical“ model of social change has quite different theological implications from the quasi-Marxist ones of Cox. Modernity, according to the classical model, represents an end to history. Following Weber, modern societies are “stuck” with many things: bureaucracy, science, technology, a certain amount and type of secularization, and with cultural and religious pluralism. There are, consequently, limits to the reconstruction of modem social life. Modernity, then. requires that some kind of liberal theology be granted ultimate stature. At the same time, however, modernity encourages the development of neo-traditional theologies to represent the various discontents of modernity and is a sort of clear-

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inghouse for ideas, including theological

ideas. In a nutshell, the modem theological task is, in the context of the classical paradigm, an exercise in the sociology of lolowledge and of truth; it explains why certain theologies share an affinity with certain sociohistorical p u p s and tries, further. to determine the relative “QUth content‘’ of each formulation. Ibe WO& of Avery Dulles. especially in his Models of the Church and Models of Revelafion. are excellent examples of such thinking. In one respect Cox’s thinking contributes something to the more middle-of-the-road thinking of Dulles. Cox insists that future theology must take into account more fully the folk religion of the average person. For all its brilliance and all its balance, the work of Dulles represents the “high tradition” of theological thought, while Cox’s “postmodem” theology will. allegedly, be more attentiveto the theology of the masses. Still, if Rofessor Cox txuly wishes to listen to what the “little people” have to say, he had better be prepared to hear some unpleasant things, things he may be forced to dismiss as “false consciousness.” Cox’s work will convince no one not already a believer in the Marxist paradigm of history. He is. after all, singing to the choir. Nevertheless, his book will be a best seller. Such success is due not only to the fact that there are many guilt-ridden romantic Western intellectuals out there in bookstore land but that Cox so lucidly and neatly articulates the current &/chic. Indeed, I look forward to reviewing the inevitable sequel of this work, to be subtitled, no doubt, “toward a post-postmodern theology.“ m

THE RECOVERY OF POLITICAL THEORY: LIMITS AND PossiBiLmEs by Wllllam C. Havard (Louisiana State University Ress; 228 pp.; 522.50)

Barbara Kellerman



The reader is leery at first. How many collections of essays written over a twentyyear period hang together to make a good book? And how significant can a book be whose main topic is the contemporary history of American political science? It is the considerable achievement of this volume that thesereservationsgradually ebb. Moreover. the author finally convinces us that the passion which drives each of these essays ought to fuel the debate within the

academy-d the public discourseas well. At first glance these essays-most of which 6rst appeared in German publications or in American journals of general intellectual interest-appear to cover a broad range. The opening piece is a reflection, from the vantage point of the early 1960s. on the problems of being an intellectual in an era that no longer sustains the idea that knowledge and reason alone can remedy what ails us. Although this first essay is less well developed than some of the later ones, it serves to introduce the theme that underlies the whole collection. Simply put, Havard would have us-aU of us-adopt a holistic approach to politics. Such a perspective would, first, enable us to understand, viscerally and intellectually,that politics cannot be abstracted from other modes of human experience;second, it would have us make sure that students of politics concem themselves with “what has been ref e d to as the ‘quaternarian structure,’ namely the interrelations among man and society, the universe and God.” Havard‘s point is that both the period of Enlightenment and the contemporary study of politics have suffered from some of the same deficiencies. When we obscure “certain realities of existence” such as the ubiquity of good and evil, say, or the certainty that man’s aspirations for perfection will outrun his capacities, we preclude the possibility of all but the most superficial understanding of political activity. The next four pieces provide lacerating criticisn+largely on grounds already mentioned he-f recent political science. In particular, Havard laments the waxing of behavioralism and the waning of political philosophy. He chides behavioralists for trying to quantify the struggle of men and women to settle public issues, and he mocks them for their futile attempts to separate facts from values and develop a “valuefree” social science. Havard further charges them with working on problems that are “either so trivial or so obvious that it is a work of supererogation to ‘prove’ them,” and suggests that instead of limiting their investigations to only “the most superficial manifestations of political experience,” they try their hand at a more profound exploration of the nature of man. It should be noted that Harvard’s attacks on those in the mainstream of his own discipline are by no means confined to the substance of their work. Their language is alsogrist for his mill. Charging that political scientists are wont to express “relatively simple ideas in an unnecessarily pompous and obscurantist form.” he accuses them further of ‘%onhived obscurity, meaning-

less repetition of ‘in’ words and phrases, tonured construction, and sheer ugliness of expression.” Potitid theorists Eric Voegelin (to whom this collection is dedicated) and Michael Oakeshott are the subjects of the next three essays. Although interesting, these pieces are difficult to categorize, clearly assuming that the reader is familiar with the work of both men. Thus, they are not introductory; nor do they constitute overviews. But neither are they ordinary critical analyses. Rather, they are personal reflections on the persons and ideas of two of this century’s most important political philosophers. Havard Ends their work perhaps the most significant contemporary contributions to the study of politics. His discussions of Voegelin and Oakeshott’s work allow Havard the opportunity to advance his own cause: Voegelin’s work exemplifies the idea that the study of Western politics must be grounded in a broadly based study of Westem man, especially the history of ideas; and Oakeshott’s analysis of the defects of rationalism in modern politics leads him inevitably to decry the “loss of coherence, unity, and wholeness of knowlege about the a p propriate ways of attending to our social and political life.” The two concluding pieces address Havard’s main concern: how to give political education intellectual and practical consequence. Oakeshott, for example, defines politics as “the activity of attending to the general arrangements of a set of people whom chance or choice have brought together.” From this definition he concludes that “the appropriate engagement of an undergraduate student of ‘politics’ at a university will be to be taught and to learn something about the modes of thought and manners of speaking of an historian and philosopher.” Havard’s argument is much the same. By excoriating mainstream political scientists for failing to recognize that the end of political education is analogous to the end of education in general-knowlam and condition of manedge about the n and by charging that the run-of-the-market political science textbook is little more than a blending machine that “stirs together packets of indigestible information and a few samples of the latest remains from the synthetic research smorgasbord.” Havard makes a ringing plea for another approach altogether: liberal studies in political education. One might fairly apply to this book (as to many collection. of essays written for different purposes over a long period of time) the clichC that it raises more questions than it answers. How, in Havard’s opinion,