NOT in a long time have the editors of TIME received so much mail from readers as they have over Pietro Annigoni's cover portrait of President Kennedy as Man of the Year. The issue was also one of the biggest sellers on the newsstands in a long time. The verdict of the readers who wrote to us is running against the portraitalthough (as our letters column shows) there is another group of readers, initially shocked, who end by praising.
At the White House the diplomatic silence was broken by Caroline Kennedy, asking her father: "Daddy, where did you get those spooky eyes?" Artist Annigoni, in Florence, has been cheerily reading the critical letters in TIME and stands his ground: "I stayed with him many hours, watching while he talked, while he put questions. He then has a very special transformation in his face. I've seen the man at work and that's what I wanted to produce in a short time. I'm capable of criticizing myself. But from the point of view of interpretation," and here he rumbled with laughter, "I quite agree with myself."
TIME cover stories on Speakers, such as this week's on John McCormack, hold a natural fascination for the man who as editor of THE NATION section is responsible for the story. He is Champ Clark, 38, grandson of the Champ Clark who was Speaker of the House from 1911-19, for whom he was named. Our Champ's father, Bennett Champ Clark, was a U.S. Senator from Missouri for twelve years.
HOW big a threat to the West is ''ruble diplomacy," the Soviet aid-and-trade program? To find out for TIME, Special Correspondent John Scott recently toured 15 countries in Europe and the Middle East, including the U.S.S.R. and its satellites, interviewing key economists and government officials. He has recorded his findings in a 138-page booklet, The Soviet Economic Offensive, which we will be happy to send to our readers at cost ($1). Please address requests to the Publisher's Office, TIME & LIFE Building, Rockefeller Center, New York 20, N. Y.