Given the near certainty of a major national debate upcoming over a new strategic arms accord with the Soviet Union, this little book (edited for the Committee on East-West Accord) serves a highly useful function. It is a collection of essays and articles by an array of distinguished Americans who believe in detnte; that is they believe it is possible, desirable and even essential to find a modus vivendi with the Kremlin.

On the other side of the debate, the hawks are vociferous and have a well-developed arguement. Being soft in the Russians, they say, will eventually lead to American calamity. The people in Detente or Debacle-including George F. Kennan, John Kenneth Galbraith, Pepsi Cola president Donald M. Kendall, and Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.) contend the opposite-that only by firm but reasoned dislogue can we tame our adversary and that doing so is in the national interest.

They argue that Americans' views of the Soviets are, by and large, too narrow, too filled with conventional prejudices. Their positions range broadly from advocacy of improved trade (Kendall) to the debunking of they myth of Soviet militarism (Aspin). Kennan's remarks, first offered as a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, are the most stirring.

Unfortunately some of these pieces are a little dated as they were compiled from publications over a year old. Nevertheless, for those who want to balance the tough anti-Soviet line that is bound to be widely put forward in the SALT controversy, this book will be good to have around. (Norton, $10.95)