scriptural metaphor, we rednecks mightnsay, is the Coat of Many Colors, not thenTower of Babel, but I confess—and Garreaunmight, too—that this judgment isnas much aesthetic as political.)nThe persona that emerges from Garreau’snbook is that of a curious, perceptivenand witty reporter—a good companionnfor the kind of voyage the booknoffers, one with which the reader cannidentify. Having brandished his conceptualnaxe at the outset, Garreau grinds itnonly inconspicuously through the nextnnine chapters, each a visit to one of then”nations.” For the most part, he appearsnto do simply what I wish Raban hadndone: travel around, seek out tellingnscenes and interesting people, watch andnlisten and report. This is artful, ofncourse, but we’ve been warned. Garreau’snopinions are evident, to be sure,nbut they are seldom intrusive and notnalways predictable. He has some funnwith the “Ecotopians” of the Northwest,nfor instance, whose treasured “quality ofnlife” presupposes an economy stoked byndefense contracts, and I will always be innhis debt for the expression clone bar, tonrefer to those “watering holes” withnhanging ferns, natural wood, exposednbrick and lots of mirrors.nijarreau intended something morenthan an updated (and superior) versionnoilnside U.S.A., though, and The NinenNations of North America at least raisesnthe interesting question of whether (andnif so, why) the United States is immunento the centrifugal tendencies lately evidentnin almost every other industrializednstate. Garreau thinks we’re not, and youncould draw the same conclusion fromnreading Alvin Tofifler’s The Third Wave,na work of pop sociology that has goodnnews and bad news for nearly everybody,nmost specifically including conservatives.nJonathan Raban caught a glimpse of thensame vision by watching television commercialsnin an Iowa motel:nThe families who populated thisnbland fiction of American middleclassnlife looked and sounded like anS()inChronicles of Culturenpack of fancy weirdos. They werenskinny fast-talkers, jabbering aboutnlaxatives and cake mixes and automobiles.nThey were as foreign to thenAmerica that I was living in as I wasnmyself. … I thought how tamely wenhad all succumbed to the theory thatntelevision automatically draws thenworld together. Surely it had just asnstrong a tendency to pull the worldnapart. It was television that fueledn[the] hatred of the ‘beautifulnpeople,’ the Washington outlaws,nAngelenos and New Yorkers. . . .n[One] switched on his set in order tonbe reminded of their beastliness.nTime will tell, of course, whethernthese prophecies of decentralization (mynless-Calhounian friends might say disintegration)nwill be fulfilled. Meanwhile,nwe can enjoy The Nine Nations of NorthnAmerica as a good travel book, combin­ning most of the various pleasures I mentionednabove. There are parts of NorthnAmerica (I’ll leave them unnamed)nwhere I no longer want to go; other partsnI enjoyed visiting, or revisiting, and seeingnthrough Garreau’s eyes. I think heneven gets the South pretty much right:nhis boundary-drawing exercise is right onnthe money, his resolution of the problemnof what to do with Miami is a great relief,nand his account of how Dixie is shapingnup these days is right up there with FrednYo-^Xtdigt’ % Journeys Through the Southn—and Powledge is a native. A goodntraveler’s account of journeys aroundnNorth America is no small achievement,neven if it was not Garreau’s principal intention.nI don’t shudder to think of foreignersnreading Nine Nations—unlikenOld Glory. But I notice that even Garreaundoesn’t have much to say aboutnNebraska. DnHis Vietnam Problem—and OursnNorman Podhoretz: Why We Were innVietnam; Simon & Schuster; NewnYork.nby Leslie LenkowskynAlthough all wars are, to some extent,nfought on two fronts, the VietnamnWar was surely exceptional in the degreento which action on the home front was asncrucial as that on the battlefield. This isnnot to disparage the contributions ofnthose who served and died in SoutheastnAsia, but rather to assert that Vietnamnwas as much a war of ideas and politics asnof bombs and bullets. Our enemies understoodnthat and developed an exquisitenability to wage ideological as well asnconventional combat. Moreover, thoughnAmerican strategy and tactics may havenbeen misguided, our defeat was not, innthe end, a military one. If the aim of allnMr. Lenkowsky, a member of the Vietnamngeneration, works for a privatenfoundation in New York City.nnnwarfare is to destroy the opposingnnation’s willingness to resist, the extraordinarynaspect of the Vietnam conflict isnhow little of this was accomplished bynour enemy and how much was due to ournown growing doubts about the course wenwere pursuing.nOf the many books that have beennwritten about this war, Norman Podhoretz’snWhy We Were in Vietnam is thenfirst to examine it as a battle of ideas. Hisnis not primarily an account of strategicnmiscalculations, cultural misunderstandingsnor poUtical miscreance. Nor isnit an original work of diplomatic or militarynhistory, though it sheds Ught onnboth. Instead, Podhoretz approaches thenVietnam War as a topic for exegesis. Thenresult is a tour deforce that not only remindsnus of why the United States wentninto Viemam, but also illuminates the’ncrucial problem that continues to hauntnAmerican foreign policy.nAs Podhoretz tells it, the story of thenViemam War is the story of a generationn—essentially his generation—that lost itsn