IT was just after 1 a.m. when the phone shrilled at Lyndon Johnson's White House bedside. Drowsily the President lifted the receiver. An instant later, he was wide awake. At the other end of the line was National Security Adviser Walt W. Rostow with the news that Hanoi was at last prepared to end the month-long dispute over a site for talks on the Viet Nam war. By way of the diplomatic "mail drop" that the U.S. and North Viet Nam have been using in the Laotian capital of...

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