Books: Better Than Gypsies

DIPLOMAT (299 pp.) — Charles W. Thayer—Harper ($4.50).

Throughout much of history, diplomats were considered several cuts below highwaymen and only slightly above strolling actors and gypsies. At the sight of a diplomat, a prince might well lock up his papers, his money and his women. In Machiavelli's time, an ambassador was expected to bribe a ruler's servants, seduce his wife and, in a pinch, kill him. As late as the 17th century, a member of the House of Commons seen talking to a foreign diplomat might lose his seat. If such distrust lingers...

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