Upstairs in the White House, Dwight Eisenhower and his lady delayed their entrance until the arrival of the tardy (by 15 minutes) Tunisian ambassador. When the ambassador had joined the throng in the East Room, the President, in white tie and tails, and Mamie, in a scarlet net gown set off by a heart-shaped diamond pendant, came down to greet the 78 guests and launch the most important diplomatic social function of the year.

So big is Washington's ever-growing diplomatic corps—the biggest in the world, with 82 heads of mission—that the White House...

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