Last October Montana's spare, slow-spoken Representative Michael J. Mansfield received a surprise summons to the White House. Said Franklin Roosevelt: "Mike, I want you to go to China for me."

As a U.S. marine, Mike Mansfield had done a two-year tour in Peking and Tientsin 23 years ago. He had not been back, but as professor of Far Eastern history in Montana State University, and as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he had remained a staunch friend of China. Armed with a long, officially prepared list of pertinent questions,...

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