Around the White House offices somber-faced staffers tiptoed across the squares of linoleum tile, whispered out their business as if some member of the official family were seriously ill. There was no laughter; tension ran higher than at any time since Dwight Eisenhower's heart attack. In the spacious, green-carpeted corner office, only 30 paces from the President's own, worked Presidential Assistant Sherman Adams, 59, briskly shuffling papers, softly snapping monosyllabic orders as he had since the day that he became Dwight Eisenhower's chief of staff in January 1953.

But Sherman Adams, the...

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