Behind Closed Doors

Kings in the 15th century were known to have held their summit meetings in the middle of a bridge. The two sovereigns did their talking through a stout oak lattice set up between them, like the prison grate during visitors' hours. That way, neither could kidnap the other.

Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev talked in Geneva through more complex lattices. They sat by the fire in the Château Fleur d'Eau and interpreted the world for each other through their distinctive mental grids--different societies, different interests, minds formed by different histories. Walter Lippmann wrote, "We are all captives of the pictures in...

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