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...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!