When Clare Boothe Luce stepped off the Italian liner Andrea Doria in April, 1953 to become U.S. ambassador to Italy, she walked into a nation in crisis. The Italian national elections were just coming up. Communists and monarchists were closing in from left and right on the teetering Christian Democratic government of Premier Alcide de Gasperi. The Communist daily L'Unita, eager to slander the U.S., hooted at her as a "comicopera ambassador." A rightist magazine hailed her arrival with a full-page cartoon of an American flag trimmed with lace. Last week when...

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