Scholarly Alcide de Gasperi has one hobby: mountain climbing. But no rock wall he ever encountered gave him the trouble he experienced last week in forming a new government for Italy.

When Crown Prince Umberto, Lieutenant General of the Realm, named him Premier to succeed Ferrucio Parri, De Gasperi was ill with influenza. At first, propped up in bed, sneezing and rheumy-eyed, he haggled with fellow politicians. Then, pale and weak, he left his bedchamber for day-&-night sessions in the Chigi Palace. Punctually at 7 each morning a neighbor's phonograph woke him up.

Sleepless De Gasperi wanted to continue coalition government. Communists,...

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