around NSA, and Bamford ignores them.nHis book may be considered a valuablenaccount of the structural chronologynand morphology of NSA, and it doesncontain some account of Soviet penetrationsnand other NSA losses (the attacknon the Liberty and the Pueblo, fornexample). But Bamford’s obsession withnsecrecy and the much-ballyhooed “rightnto know” is trite and unpersuasive, and itnleads him to neglect the more serious aspectsnof NSA, which also happens to representnone of the more serious problemsnof modem governments—the replacementnof human skills by technical expertisenand the consequent inability of governmentsnto deal with human problems.nFour centuries ago MachiavelU warnednboth princes and republics not to relynon mercenaries, artillery, and fortifiedndefenses. He is often criticized for ignoringnthe importance of these factors innsecuring political and military power,nbut Machiavelli’s real concern was thatnstates would rely on such gadgetry atnthe expense of the moral and emotionalnforces that underlie the strength, security,nand interests of the state. In the philosophynof James Bamford, as in that ofnthe technocrats he dissects, such forcesnare not even dreamt of because theirnideology renders the moral and emotionalnrealities of human nature invisible.nInstead, the establishment pursues thenappearance of security through technologicalnillusion, and critics like Bamfordnpromote the illusion of freedom by denyingnthe need for security.nThe Puzzle Palace sports a quotationnfrom George Orwell as its motto andnends with a quotation from Frank Church.nOne feels rather sorry for Mr. Bamford,nbecause after so much effort he finds sonlittle to justify either one. DnMedia Magic: Victories into DefeatsnPeter Braestrup: Big Story: How thenAmerican Press and Television Reportednand Interpreted ^e Crisisnof Tet 1968 in Vietnam and Washingtonn(Abridged edition); YalenUniversity Press; New Haven, CT.nby Robert NisbetnIhis valuable book was first publishednin two volumes in 1977. Such wasnits immediately recognized authoritynthat it created a very considerablenamount of distress in schools of journalismnand in the higher ofiices of thenprint and electronic media. And well itnshould have, for it is difficult to imagine anmore humiliating document than thisnbook in its impact upon publishers, editors,nproducers, and anchormen. Rarelynif ever have the media been caught innflagrante delicto in as searching, meticulopslyninvestigated, and superbly written anDr. Nisbet’s most recent book isnPrejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary.n8nChronicles of Culturenfeshion as they have by Peter Braestrup.nAnd seldom has the difference betweennobjective reality and contrived, falsifiednreality been made more stark.nPeter Braestrup was the proper mannto undertake the seven years of detailedninvestigation that went into the makingnof Big Story. A combat Marine veteran ofnKorea, he went to South Vietnam as reporter;nin due time he was Bureau Chiefnof the Washington Post Korea hadnblooded him, as it were, so he was usednto the realities of battle in a degree deniednto most or all of his fellow reportersnin Vietnam. The reader will look in vainnfor anger and recrimination in the book.nThere is no afr of righteousness, no fingernpointing, no moralizing. The author describesnhimself as simply “an active ifnless than omniscient participant in thenViet Nam coverage I describe.”nThe result is damning nevertheless.nBraestrup holds the glass up to myriadnreporters, editors, commentators, andnanchormen in respect to thefr coveragenof the single most decisive battle of thennnwhole Vietnam War—or rather whatncould have been the most decisive battlenhad that battle been assimilated bynofficial Washington and the media in anway bearing some correspondence tonreality.nOn January 30-31,1968, the Vietcongnaided heavily by North Vietnamese regularnsoldiers, unleashed a powerful assaultnupon towns and cities in SouthnVietnam, including Saigon. Even in thenfirst waves, more than 80,000 troopsnwere involved. Moreover, they werenoverwhelmingly the cream of thenenemy’s forces, well trained, bold, andnresourceful—and well armed. Almostnimmediately the communists were ablento surround the American Marine outpostnin Khe San; they held it under siegenfor days. For three weeks they occupiednthe former imperial capital city. Hue.nEven the American Embassy in Saigonnwas invaded by sappers, and althoughnthey never achieved control, there werensome anxious hours.nBut despite the carefiil preparationnfor the surprise onslaught, and despitenthe very high quality of troops, the attacknfailed utterly. Within a few days theneventual outcome of the battle was nonlonger in doubt. The South Vietnamesentroops, fighting bravely and effectivelyn—joined, of course, by American soldiers—camenvery close to completelyndestroying the attacking communistnforces. Tens of thousands of elite, longexperiencednfighters of the Vietcongnand the North Vietnamese regularsnwere killed or captured. As wave afternwave of the communist soldiers camenout of the jungle and the villages theynwere met by deadly firepower.nBraestrup quotes tellingly from anothernreporter present, Don Obendorfer:nIt is clear that the attack force—^andnparticularly the indigenous Vietcongnwho did most of the fighting andndying—suffered a grievous militarynsetback The Vietcong lost the bestnof a generation of resistance fighters,nand after Tet, increasing numbers ofnNorth Vietnamese liad to be sent southnto fill the ranks. The war became in-n