We are pleased to present this year’s roundup of books by Foreign Service members and their families.
The Foreign Service Journal is pleased to present our 17th annual Foreign Service authors roundup in plenty of time for holiday orders.
Our primary purpose in presenting “In Their Own Write” is to celebrate the wealth of literary talent within the Foreign Service community, and to give our readers the opportunity to support colleagues by sampling their writing. Each entry contains full publication data along with a short commentary.
Our annotated list of books written, edited or translated by members of the Foreign Service community in 2016 and 2017 is neither a comprehensive nor definitive record; we rely on the authors themselves to bring their books to our attention.
This year we feature 53 volumes—seven works of history and biography, a weighty policy and issues section, nine memoirs and 16 works of fiction, including several titles for young people, in addition to a potpourri of works on exercise, eating, education, employment and leadership, along with one unique musical entry. As usual, we include a selection of recent books “of related interest” to diplomats and their families that were not written by FS authors.
This year’s roundup was assembled with the vital assistance of Dmitry Filipoff, Donna Gorman and Steven Alan Honley.
—Susan Brady Maitra, Managing Editor
Edwina S. Campbell, Southern Illinois University Press, 2016, $34.48/hardcover, $34.50/Kindle, 280 pages.
In 1877 former president Ulysses S. Grant embarked on a two-year world tour that took him from Liverpool to Yokohama, with numerous stops in Europe and Asia. By contrast with most Grant biographers, who treat the tour as a pleasure trip if they discuss it at all, author Edwina Campbell chronicles Grant’s travels with the understanding that he was on a U.S. government-sanctioned diplomatic mission—in fact, the first diplomatic mission ever undertaken by a former U.S. president.
Campbell demonstrates that the tour marked a turning point in the U.S. role in global affairs. In meetings with monarchs, ministers and average citizens, Grant articulated concepts of self-determination, international organization and the peaceful settlement of disputes—decades before Elihu Root’s advocacy for binding international arbitration and President Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations proposal. He confirmed the United States’ commitment to Anglo-American partnership, demonstrated America’s interest in the territorial integrity of China and asserted the importance of an international order based on equality and justice.
Edwina S. Campbell is a former U.S. Foreign Service officer. After leaving the State Department, she taught American foreign policy at the University of Virginia and grand strategy at National Defense University, retiring in 2014 as a professor of national security studies at Air University. Her numerous publications include Germany’s Past and Europe’s Future: The Challenges of West German Foreign Policy (Brassey’s Inc., 1989) and The Relevance of American Power: The Anglo-American Past and the Euro-Atlantic Future (Centre for Defence Studies, 1999).
Elizabeth Brown Pryor, Viking,2017, $35/hardcover, $17.99/Kindle, 496 pages.
In this scrupulously researched work that was published posthumously, Elizabeth Brown Pryor homes in on six mostly unknown encounters between Abraham Lincoln and his constituents that reveal different, often surprising, aspects of the president’s character. The encounters exemplified the trials Lincoln faced during his presidency: for example, a meeting with U.S. Army officers on the eve of the Civil War, a conversation on the White House portico with an abolitionist cavalry sergeant, and a difficult exchange with a Confederate businessman and editor. Pryor draws on hundreds of letters, diaries and other primary source material, as well as her own considerable storytelling expertise, in reconstructing the encounters. She immerses readers in the throes of the Civil War and shines a revealing light on how Lincoln bore his burden as a wartime commander-in-chief deliberating on emancipation, the exercise of emergency powers and leading a divided constituency.
Elizabeth Brown Pryor, who was tragically killed in an auto accident in 2015, was a Senior Foreign Service officer and an award-winning historian. She was the author of Clara Barton: Professional Angel (1988) and Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters (2007), which won the 2008 Lincoln Prize, the 2007 Jefferson Davis Award, the 2008 Richard B. Harwell Book Award and the 2007 Richard S. Slatten Award for Excellence in Virginia Biography.
Barry Riley, Oxford University Press, 2017, $49.95/hardcover, $18.35/Kindle, 592 pages.
American food aid has long been the most visible and most popular means of assisting millions of hungry people confronted by war, terrorism and natural cataclysms, and the famine and death that all too often follow them.
In The Political History of American Food Aid, Barry Riley traces its use from the earliest days of the republic to the present: as a response to hunger, a weapon to confront the expansion of Bolshevism after World War I and communism after World War II, a method for balancing disputes between Israel and Egypt, a channel for disposing of food surpluses and as a means for securing the votes of farming constituents or the political support of agriculture sector lobbyists, commodity traders, transporters and shippers.
Riley illuminates the interplay of the complex factors influencing American food aid policy, including economic development and food security, and also offers thoughts about its role in a world confronting the effects of global climate change.
Barry Riley was a Foreign Service officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development for more than 20 years, mostly in eastern and northeastern Africa. Since leaving the Service, he has been a private consultant; worked for the World Bank and other agencies; and is currently a visiting scholar at the Center on Food Security and the Environment, part of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He is the author of The Development Effectiveness of Food Aid: Does Tying Matter? (OECD, 2006).
Steven Pifer, Brookings Institution Press, 2017, $29.99/hardcover, $16.19/Kindle, 366 pages.
In this comprehensive account of post-Cold War U.S.-Ukraine relations, Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, details the major policy objectives of the bilateral relationship and the challenges facing Ukraine today.
From cementing a strategic partnership agreement to removing some 2,000 nuclear warheads from Ukraine, the bilateral relationship appeared to be on a positive trajectory after the fall of the Soviet Union. But, Pifer shows, Ukraine’s reforms were ultimately not enough to prevent the nation from falling under the Russian sphere of influence. With the perspective and insight unique to a practitioner, Pifer offers recommendations for managing the U.S.-Ukraine relationship in a time of uncertainty and Russian resurgence.
A retired Foreign Service officer, Steven Pifer served as deputy assistant secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs with responsibilities for Russia and Ukraine (2001-2004), as ambassador to Ukraine (1998-2000) and as special assistant to the president and senior director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia on the National Security Council (1996-1997). He is currently director of the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative and a senior fellow with the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence and the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution.
Steven Alan Honley, Arlington Hall Press, 2017, $4.99/paperback, $2.99/Kindle, 110 pages.
Since its founding in 1947, the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute has dedicated itself to teaching foreign languages, regional expertise and professional tradecraft to U.S. diplomats and other foreign affairs practitioners. This book, the first history of FSI ever written, traces FSI’s evolution over the past seven decades from a small facility into a bustling campus serving tens of thousands of U.S. Foreign Service personnel every year. In 12 chapters that alternate between historical context and the specific schools that make up the National Foreign Affairs Training Center (e.g., the School of Language Studies and the School of Leadership and Management), the author tells the story of FSI—what it is and how it has evolved—in a fascinating and accessible way.
Steven Alan Honley was a Foreign Service officer from 1985 to 1997, and served as editor-in-chief of The Foreign Service Journal from 2001 to 2014. He is a frequent contributor to the Journal.
Lawrence C. Heilman, First Forum Press, 2017, $85/hardcover, 346 pages.
Despite the fact that Bolivia had received more than $4.7 billion over seven decades from the U.S. government to support development efforts, Bolivian President Evo Morales abruptly expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development from the country in May 2013. Why? The answer, argues Lawrence Heilman, is rooted in a complex slice of history beginning with U.S. assistance to Bolivia during World War II.
In this textbook Heilman explores that history from the perspectives of both the United States and Bolivia, presenting a tapestry of mutual benefits and conflicting interests. He appraises the ideas and personalities that determined U.S. foreign aid policies and programs across successive administrations, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Barack Obama. He analyzes the political and economic context that shaped Bolivia’s development aspirations, as well as the goals and strategies of the USAID mission in Bolivia that guided its decisions about specific projects. The result is a book that not only gives an in-depth picture of the agency’s operations in one country, but also offers important insights into overall U.S. aid policy.
Lawrence C. Heilman, a Senior Foreign Service officer who retired after a 20-year career with USAID, is a research associate in the Anthropology Department at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Allen G. Breed and Robin L. White, CreateSpace, 2016, $25/paperback, $2.99/Kindle, 732 pages.
This volume is a touching tale told via the correspondence between a husband and wife who sought each other’s comfort in the midst of the American Civil War. Dr. Bowman Breed, who served as a physician in the Union Army, marched off with the 8th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia four days after Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter, leaving his wife, Hannah, with their 4-month-old son, Isaiah.
The couple vowed to write each other every day, even if “just a line.” Bowman served throughout the war, moving from the hospitals of Washington, D.C., to North Carolina, Virginia, Missouri and Tennessee. Hannah, who joined her husband in the field for long stretches of the war, adds the perspective of a frontline correspondent to that of a worried wife at home.
This collection of more than 1,000 letters is a fascinating and unusual primary source for the Civil War. Among the highlights are a missive in which Bowman describes a visit with the president at the White House in April 1862 and one in which Hannah vividly describes the reaction to Lincoln’s assassination.
Robin L. White and her cousin, Allen G. Breed, transcribed and edited their great-grandparents’ Civil War correspondence. A retired Foreign Service officer, Robin White served in Morocco, Canada and Japan. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Nathaniel P. Breed Jr., great-grandson of Dr. Bowman and Hannah Breed. Allen Breed is an Associated Press national writer.
Harry W. Kopp and John K. Naland, Georgetown University Press, 2017, $29.95/paperback, $16.17/Kindle, 296 pages.
Drawing on their own experience and interviews with more than 100 current and former members of the Foreign Service, Harry Kopp and John Naland provide a candid account of the life and work of U.S. diplomats. They explore all the career tracks and lay out what to expect in a Foreign Service career, from the entrance exam through midcareer and into the Senior Foreign Service.
This new edition includes a discussion of the relationship of the Department of State to other agencies and to the combatant commands; an analysis of hiring procedures; commentary on challenging management issues in the department, including the proliferation of political appointments in high-level positions and the difficulties of running an agency with employees in two personnel systems (Civil Service and Foreign Service); and an examination of changing demographics in the Foreign Service.
Harry Kopp joined the Foreign Service in 1967. He served as deputy assistant secretary of State for international trade policy in the Carter and Reagan administrations. His overseas posts included Warsaw and Brasília. He is the author of Commercial Diplomacy and the National Interest (American Academy of Diplomacy, 2004) and The Voice of the Foreign Service: A History of the American Foreign Service Association (Foreign Service Books, 2015).
John Naland joined the Foreign Service in 1986 and served overseas in Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Iraq. A previous two-term president of the American Foreign Service Association, he is currently serving as Retiree VP.
Bradley M. Gardner, Independent Institute, 2017, $27.95/hardcover; $16.99/Kindle, 232 pages.
China’s dramatic rise has lifted hundreds of millions of its citizens out of poverty and reshaped the global economy. Despite flouting fiscal and financial orthodoxy, China’s economy continued to chalk up a growth rate of 10 percent per year; between 1981 and 2011, the number of citizens living in absolute poverty dropped by a staggering 753 million. How Beijing accomplished this and what it means is a matter of lively debate in policy circles around the world.
In this book, Bradley Gardner zeroes in on one striking factor in China’s transformation: the migration of more than 500 million people from their birthplaces to the country’s rapidly growing cities. In analyzing the role of migration in China’s economic development, the author draws on his own research and journalistic experience in China, including interviews with ordinary folk, to understand why people chose to migrate and the subsequent social and political effects of such massive population shifts. He examines the problems policymakers faced and how they addressed them.
Bradley M. Gardner joined the State Department Foreign Service in 2014. An economic officer, he has served in Nepal and is now posted in Slovakia. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, he worked at the Independent Institute, as a research analyst with the China office of The Economist’s intelligence unit and as managing editor of China International Business and editor-in-chief for China Offshore/Invest In at Mx Media.
Adrian A. Basora, Agnieszka Marczyk and Maia Otarashvili, editors; Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2017, $34.77/paperback, 222 pages.
Confidence in the future of democracy has been shaken by the authoritarian resurgence of the past decade; some experts now argue that it is no longer realistic for America to continue to champion that cause overseas. Eleven scholars from a wide variety of backgrounds explore that pressing question in Does Democracy Matter? The United States and Global Democracy Support.
This book is the product of the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Project on Democratic Transitions, a yearlong process of study groups that culminated in a conference in October 2014. The contributors concur that in the long run, U.S. strategic interests are generally served by the spread of democracy abroad. But they caution that support of democratization may conflict with short-term U.S. national security goals. The concluding chapter assesses where and how such democracy support policies can be effective.
Adrian A. Basora and Kenneth Yalowitz, who co-authored the book’s introduction and its concluding chapter, are retired Senior Foreign Service officers. Kenneth Yalowitz served twice as U.S. ambassador, to Belarus (1994-1997) and to Georgia (1998-2001), during his 36-year diplomatic career. Adrian A. Basora, also one of the book’s editors, served as chief of mission in Prague (1992-1995). Amb. Basora directed FPRI’s Project on Democratic Transitions, and is currently co-director of its Eurasia Program. Basora’s co-editors, Agnieszka Marczyk (who also contributed a chapter) and Mara Otarashvili, are both fellows at FRPI.
Dennis C. Jett, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, $39.99/paperback, $29.99/e-book, 476 pages.
This timely book examines attempts by critics of President Barack Obama to influence the outcome of his administration’s six years of negotiations with Tehran over Iran’s nuclear capabilities. As the author documents, trying to prevent a successful outcome to the talks became a cottage industry in Washington.
Billionaire Sheldon Adelson has perhaps been the most prominent and deep-pocketed contributor to the effort, pouring millions of dollars of his own money into it. But he had plenty of company in that crusade. On the pro-diplomacy side, a wide range of religious, peace and arms control groups worked together, with some financial support coming from the Ploughshares Fund, to help create the space for a negotiated agreement.
The author presents and assesses the tactics used by both sides of the debate. In the process, he reveals how a contentious foreign policy issue can expand from a task for high-level decision-makers into a wide-ranging fight involving scores of nongovernmental organizations, the media and thousands of activists.
During 28 years as a State Department Foreign Service officer, Dennis Jett served as ambassador to Peru and Mozambique, among many other assignments. He is currently a professor of international relations and founding faculty member of the School of International Affairs at Penn State University, and has written three previous books: Why Peacekeeping Fails (2001), Why American Foreign Policy Fails (2008) and American Ambassadors: The Past, Present and Future of America’s Diplomats (2014), all published by Palgrave Macmillan.
Robert E. Mitchell, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, $54.99/hardcover, $54.99/Kindle, 131 pages.
Rather than a traditional book on economics and markets, this work is about the moral basis of economic thinking. As in other professions, the field of economics has its own vocabulary by which the elements of economic processes are described and evaluated. Robert Mitchell introduces a few vocabulary terms and associated assumptions found in the historical writings of economists and raises questions about them.
“Wealth,” “gross domestic product,” “hierarchies” and “inequality,” for example, are all terms infused with moral overtones that academic philosophers and policy analysts have used to raise questions about fairness and justice. In eight thoughtful chapters, Robert Mitchell challenges readers to question the implicit assumptions underlying such concepts, which only appear to be neutral, and to reconsider the policy goals the United States and other nations can, and should, be pursuing.
Robert E. Mitchell is a retired Foreign Service officer who served as a behavioral science adviser for the Near East Bureau of the U.S. Agency for International Development. That assignment was followed by overseas postings in Egypt, Yemen and Guinea-Bissau. After leaving the Service, he was a professor of urban and regional studies at Columbia University, the University of California at Berkeley, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Florida State University. He has also directed two survey research centers, served as executive director of two state-level task forces and headed a national task force on family policy.
Charles Ray, Uhuru Press, 2017, $8.50/paperback; $3.50/Kindle, 92 pages.
Acting in an ethical manner doesn’t always mean obeying the rules and not doing anything illegal. Ethical dilemmas occur when there is a conflict of values between two courses of action, both of which are legal. Though the State Department and other foreign affairs agencies have comprehensive compliance ethics programs, none of them address such ethical dilemmas.
In this slim volume, with a foreword by Ambassador (ret.) Ruth Davis, a former Director General of the Foreign Service, Charles Ray addresses that gray area, discussing how to make decisions when the choice is between two courses of action that are “right”—an ability Ray believes critical to maintaining the competence and professionalism of the Foreign Service in today’s atmosphere of uncertainty. The author presents numerous examples and poses questions for thought, marshaling his own considerable decision-making experience as an army officer and a diplomat.
Charles Ray retired from the Foreign Service in 2012 after a 30-year career that included service as U.S. ambassador to Cambodia (2002-2005) and Zimbabwe (2009-2012), deputy assistant secretary of defense for POW/missing personnel affairs (2006-2009) and the first American consul general in Ho Chi Minh City (1998-2001), in addition to postings in China, Thailand and Sierra Leone. He joined the Foreign Service in 1982 after completing a 20-year career in the U.S. Army.
Ambassador Ray now devotes himself full-time to writing. Ethical Dilemmas is the latest of more than 60 titles, both nonfiction and fiction, he has published over the years. (See below for five novels he has published in 2016 and 2017.)
Judith Ravin and Muhammad Hassan Miraj, Inkwater Press, 2017, $13.95/paperback, $3.99/Kindle, 192 pages.
Beyond Our Degrees of Separation documents Judith Ravin’s and Muhammad Hassan Miraj’s efforts to understand not just each other, but their respective societies, better. A series of short essays and vignettes written alternately by the two, the book imaginatively documents the learning process undertaken by the “geographically disturbed”—individuals whose perpetual wanderlust motivates them to visit and live in distant lands with different cultures.
The co-authors evoke multiple points of intersection between the United States and Pakistan. They transcend their respective realms of U.S. diplomacy and the Pakistan military to uncover a surprising amount of common ground. Themes covered in this book include displacement, social justice, cross-border issues, terrorism, loss and interfaith harmony.
Judith Ravin joined the State Department Foreign Service in 2003, after living and working abroad as an editor, translator and journalist. Her first assignment was to Pakistan as deputy cultural affairs officer. Since then, she has served in Argentina, Japan, Burkina Faso, Mexico, Cameroon, Sudan, the Dominican Republic and Washington, D.C.
Muhammad Hassan Miraj is a creative writing teacher, published author and communication practitioner, but above all a storyteller. His 15-year career in the Pakistan Army took him across the country, enabling him to connect with ethnic and linguistic subcultures, and included nearly a year in the United States.
Sarah Ashby, Sussex Academic Press, 2017, $69.95/hardcover, 168 pages.
To deepen and strengthen its ties with Lusophone countries across the globe, in 1996 the Portuguese government founded a supranational organization called the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries. In contrast to Portugal’s perception of marginality in relation to Europe, in the realm of the CPLP the former world power could once again see itself as existing at the center—geographically, as well as from a historic-cultural perspective—of an extensive international milieu.
The Lusophone World: The Evolution of Portuguese National Narratives—the first volume in a series exploring “The Portuguese-Speaking World”—analyzes the dialectic between Portugal’s sense of identity and its membership in both the European Union and the CPLP. Author Sarah Ashby suggests that the fact that Lisbon is forging closer ties with its former colonies does not necessarily reflect estrangement from Brussels. More likely, it is simply seeking new tools to survive and prosper as a member of a rapidly changing European Union.
Sarah Ashby, a Foreign Service officer posted in São Paulo, notes in her preface that the inspiration for this book came from her 2013 internship in Embassy Lisbon. She received a Ph.D. from Brown University’s Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies in 2015.
Roger Kreuz and Richard Roberts, MIT Press, 2017, $27.95/hardcover, $15.39/Kindle, 304 pages.
We can learn to speak other languages, but do we truly understand what we are saying? How much detail should we offer when someone asks how we are? How close should we stand to our conversational partners? Being able to communicate depends on both culture and context. In Getting Through, Roger Kreuz and Richard Roberts draw on psychology, linguistics and sociology, as well as personal experience, to develop their guide to understanding and being understood in different cultures.
Kreuz and Roberts help us navigate such subtleties as how to apologize in a foreign country, or how to greet strangers. They argue that their study of cross-cultural communication isn’t purely academic: The more we understand one another, the better we communicate, and the better we communicate, the more we can avoid conflict.
FSO Richard Roberts has served in Niger, Japan, South Korea and Mongolia, and is proficient in Japanese, German and Portuguese. Before joining the Foreign Service he taught psychology on the campuses of the University of Maryland University College in Europe and Asia. Roger Kreuz, who has taught for more than 25 years, is professor of psychology and associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Memphis. The two also co-authored Becoming Fluent: How Cognitive Science Can Help Adults Learn a Foreign Language (MIT Press, 2015).
Robin Renee Sanders, XLibris, 2017, $34.99/hardcover, $23.99/paperback, $3.99/Kindle, 546 pages.
Robin Renee Sanders’ book, a volume in the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training’s Memoirs and Occasional Papers series, is an insightful examination of a recent, dramatic shift in the development paradigm for sub-Saharan Africa, in which growth is being driven by the region’s youth and small and medium-sized entrepreneurs.
Sanders introduces readers to some members of Africa’s Generation X and millennial cohort who are among the thousands of entrepreneurs inventing new apps and coming up with new approaches to the continent’s age-old poverty issues. The author includes vignettes from her diplomatic career and subsequent work with the FEEEDS Advocacy Initiative; walks readers through what donors, foundations and African stock markets are doing today to help small and medium-sized enterprises; and concludes with recommendations for further steps to assist those at the “fragile” end of Africa’s middle class.
Robin Renee Sanders, a retired Senior Foreign Service officer, held numerous postings throughout Africa during her career, which culminated with ambassadorships in the Republic of Congo (2002-2005) and Nigeria (2007-2009). Ambassador Sanders is the founder and CEO of the FEEEDS Advocacy Initiative. FEEEDS—food security, education, environment/energy, economics, democracy/development and self-help—works with underserved communities and groups to raise awareness of these challenges and advocate measures to address them.
John Campbell, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2016, $29.95/hardcover, $15.37/Kindle, 244 pages.
John Campbell’s newest book takes an in-depth look at post-apartheid South Africa, where a long history of racism and white supremacy continues to resonate today. Under current President Jacob Zuma, South Africa is merely treading water, and some in South Africa have attempted to undermine the 1994 political settlement characterized by human rights guarantees and the rule of law. Nevertheless, Campbell argues, the country’s future remains bright, and its democratic institutions will survive the current political situation.
Campbell examines the presidential inaugurations of Nelson Mandela and Jacob Zuma and Mandela’s funeral, using these events to illustrate the ways South Africa has changed in the last two decades. He also writes of the continuing consequences of apartheid and explains education, health and current political developments, including land reform, with an eye on how South Africa’s democracy is responding to associated challenges. The book ends with Campbell’s assessment of why closer South African ties with the West are unlikely and his assertion that members of the black majority in South Africa are no longer strangers in their own country.
John Campbell joined the State Department in 1975, serving in Aubja, Lyon, Paris, Geneva and Pretoria. His second posting to Nigeria (2004-2007) was as U.S. ambassador. He is the Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, and the author of Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013).
Deborah L. Trent, editor, The Public Diplomacy Council, 2016, $19.95/paperback, 310 pages.
“Most good public diplomacy is nontraditional, but also based on a sound understanding of other forms, functions and objectives of diplomacy. That is where the experience of contributors to this work is very valuable,” says Jan Melissen, founding co-editor of The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, about this book.
Nontraditional U.S. Public Diplomacy, the fifth volume of the Public Diplomacy Council Series, showcases key innovations and lessons in U.S. diplomacy since World War I. A collection of essays by practitioners and researchers in the field, its inspiration came from a daylong conference on public diplomacy in late 2013.
The book offers compelling engagement strategies and primary research for shaping and communicating policy among increasingly diverse, collaborative and powerful publics. Chapter titles include: “The Uses and Abuses of Public Diplomacy: Winning and Losing Hearts and Minds,” “Nontraditional Diplomacy in the Iraq-Afghan Wars, or The Ups and Downs of Strategic Communicators” and “Public Diplomacy Engages Religious Communities, Actors and Organizations: A Belated and Transformative Marriage.”
The 11 contributors include several retired Senior Foreign Service officers: John Brown, Ambassador (ret.) Brian E. Carlson, Peter Kovach, Ambassador (ret.) Anthony C.E. Quainton and Richard A. Virden. Deborah L. Trent, the book’s editor, worked for the U.S. Information Agency for 13 years before moving into nonprofit management and research. She wrote the book’s introduction and also contributed a chapter. Other contributors include Carol Balassa, Robert Albro, Helle C. Dale, Jong-on Hahm and Craig Hayden.
Robert D. Blackwill and Jennifer M. Harris, Belknap Press, 2016, $29.95/hardcover; $19.95/paperback; $16.17/Kindle, 384 pages.
Today, nations increasingly carry out geopolitical combat through economic means. Policies governing everything from trade and investment to energy and exchange rates are wielded as tools to win diplomatic allies, punish adversaries and coerce those who have not taken a side. In contrast, as Robert D. Blackwell and Jennifer M. Harris argue in War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft, America still too often reaches for the gun rather than the purse to advance its interests abroad. The result is a playing field tilting ever more sharply against us.
In a cogent analysis of this trend, the authors explain that the rules-based system Washington established after World War II benefited Americans for decades. But now, as the system frays and global competitors such as China take advantage, America is uniquely self-constrained. If it does throw off its policy shackles, the price in blood and treasure will only grow.
Robert D. Blackwill was a Foreign Service officer from 1967 to 1987, and later served as U.S. ambassador to India from 2001 to 2003. He is currently the Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Jennifer M. Harris is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Dan Whitman, New Academia Publishing, 2017, $26/paperback, 259 pages.
As its subtitle indicates, Answer Coming Soon: More Blog Postings on Arts, Letters, Policy is a sequel to Dan Whitman’s 2012 volume of his blog postings (Blaming No One). In its pages, he once again offers a practitioner’s view of foreign policy, while also tackling themes ranging from immigration and other governmental functions to human nature, music, literature and oral history.
All of the book’s content originally appeared online at Punditwire, a public blog disseminated by American University’s School of Communication. Its short chapters invite busy readers to take their time and reflect on Whitman’s insights. Printed in chronological order of their publication dates, the segments constitute a cross-section of developments that got public attention between 2012 and 2016, as well as some that should have but didn’t. Answer Coming Soon challenges facile suppositions and notes historic moments of interest for the general reader.
Dan Whitman was a Foreign Service officer with both the U.S. Information Agency and the Department of State from 1985 until he retired from the Service in 2009. His overseas postings included Denmark, Spain, South Africa, Haiti and Cameroon. He is the author of five other books, and has written for The Foreign Service Journal.
Lewis Richard Luchs, Lulu Publishing Services, 2016, $18/paperback; $7.55/Kindle, 366 pages.
What is it like to be a diplomat in six far-flung nations? Lewis Richard Luchs gives you a behind-the-scenes look in Diplomatic Tales, a memoir about his Foreign Service career from 1967 to 1992. As he recounts, Luchs wore three hats at once in Madagascar, witnessed a military coup d’état in Mali, saw the creation of modern Singapore, felt the excitement of working in a France emerging from the self-isolation of the Gaullist era and observed Australia’s efforts to redefine itself in a new Asia. He portrays the official diplomatic life, but also the personal life of diplomats and their families, in these extraordinary environments.
In sharing his challenges, sorrows and joys, he tackles such questions as: What do embassies do? What do diplomats do? What stresses are put on their families? And what is it like to face terrorist threats? You’ll find insights, as well as thoughtful, practical answers to those and many other inquiries, in this book.
Lewis Richard Luchs, a retired Senior Foreign Service officer, served in Madagascar, Mali, Singapore, France, Malaysia and Australia. He brought a background in sociocultural anthropology and a lifelong interest in human cultures to U.S. diplomacy. Luchs has four sons and eight grandchildren and lives in Oregon with his wife, Sharon. He is also the author of Children of the Manse (2009).
Lynda Schuster, Melville House, 2017, $26.99/hardcover, 352 pages.
Sixteen-year-old Lynda Schuster is bored at home in the Midwest, angry about her parents’ divorce and embarrassed by her mother, a dull suburban housewife. In search of adventure, Schuster secretly buys a ticket to Israel, where she intends to volunteer on a kibbutz but finds herself in the middle of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. Hooked on the fear and adrenaline rush of war, she decides to become a foreign correspondent, working in war-torn and otherwise dangerous locales.
The early part of this memoir chronicles Schuster’s almost accidental entry into the world of journalism and her subsequent adventures as a foreign correspondent in Central and South America, the Middle East and Mexico. She meets, marries and loses her first husband, a much older war correspondent for a competing newspaper, within the span of a year.
She later meets and marries a U.S. diplomat. Realizing she isn’t going to be able to hold on to both husband and career, she quits her job to become a full-time diplomat’s spouse. She chronicles her daily life as an FS spouse, describing everything from formal dinners to post evacuations. See the September FSJ for a full review.
Lynda Schuster is a former foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and The Christian Science Monitor. She is married to Ambassador (ret.) Dennis Jett and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband and daughter.
James F. Dobbins, Brookings Institution Press, 2017, $29.99/hardcover, $16.19/Kindle, 336 pages.
During a distinguished 35-year Foreign Service career, James Dobbins worked on the frontlines of American diplomacy, from 1960s Vietnam to Afghanistan at the start of the 21st century. His memoir, notes former FSO Harry Kopp in his review of this book in the July-August FSJ, “spans a period of ebbing, or squandering, of what had seemed in his phrase an ‘inexhaustible abundance of American power.’ It is the story of a career marked by diplomatic successes and darkened in its latter years by frustration.”
As Dobbins states in the preface, his intent is “to show American diplomacy as it was and as it has become.” He takes readers behind the scenes at the Vietnam peace talks, the reunification of Germany, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the U.S. military interventions in Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, Somalia and Afghanistan. He examines the successes and failures, and provides incisive portraits of many of the chief actors, from General Vernon Walters to President Bill Clinton.
James Dobbins, who retired in 2002, served as assistant secretary of State for Europe, special assistant to the president for the Western Hemisphere, special adviser to the president and Secretary of State for the Balkans, U.S. ambassador to the European Community and as special envoy for Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. He holds the Distinguished Chair for Diplomacy and Security at the RAND Corporation.
James R. Bullington, CreateSpace, 2017, $19.95/paperback, 334 pages.
This autobiography traces Foreign Service Officer Jim Bullington’s personal and professional story from his birth in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and early life in rural Alabama to a career in diplomacy and appointment as U.S. ambassador to Burundi (1983-1986). Within that impressive arc, as Bullington tells it, he’s always taken the less-traveled roads, and they have led to the great adventures recounted in this personal and professional memoir.
The first in his family to go to college, he publicly advocated desegregation in 1961 Alabama. He joined the Foreign Service, choosing assignments at remote posts in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, including three tours as a “warrior diplomat” in Vietnam. He married an Asian woman, Tuy-Cam, following their narrow escape from behind North Vietnamese lines during the 1968 Tet Offensive.
He became a U.S. ambassador, and then retired from the Foreign Service at age 48, continuing an international career as foreign minister for the city of Dallas, Texas. He returned to Africa as Peace Corps director in Niger. And he was recalled to active duty in the Foreign Service at age 72, assigned to help end a 30-year insurgency in Senegal.
James R. Bullington also served in Thailand, Burma, Chad and Benin, and as dean of the Senior Seminar. In retirement, he is a writer, speaker and senior fellow at the Joint Forces Staff College. He and his wife live in Williamsburg, Virginia.
J. Kael Weston, Alfred A. Knopf, 2016, $28.95/hardcover; $17/paperback; $12.99/Kindle, 585 pages.
J. Kael Weston’s Foreign Service career was unlike any other. The Mirror Test chronicles his experience working for the State Department in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 to 2010. It is “a granular yet gripping ground-level account of the political and human costs of war: its small successes, as well as its tragedies, absurdities and ironies,” as Ambassador (ret.) Gordon Brown writes in his review in the October FSJ.
Weston offers not simply an account, but also a reflection on his experience. The book’s title refers to the challenge faced by seriously wounded and disfigured soldiers: When they look in the mirror for the first time during their recovery, can they foresee a life of pride and honor? In offering this unflinching look at our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the author asks us to evaluate honestly what we see.
As Weston told his twin brother while writing the book, The Mirror Test will be about “the lives of the little people and their experiences in our wars that happen far from Washington, D.C.” He highlights the interplay between diplomacy and war, weaving together the voices of a range of Iraqis, Afghans and Americans. We meet generals, corporals, family members, district chiefs, former insurgent fighters, schoolteachers and imams.
J. Kael Weston joined the Foreign Service in 2001 and served until 2012. He received the Secretary of State’s Medal for Heroism for his work in Fallujah.
Harriet Lee Elam-Thomas, with Jim Robison, Potomac Books, 2017, $29.95/paperback, 240 pages.
Diversifying Diplomacy tells the story of Harriet Elam-Thomas, a black woman from Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood who became a successful diplomat. Inspired by the strong women in her life, she helped make the Foreign Service reflect the diverse faces of the United States. The youngest child of parents who left the segregated Old South to raise their family in Massachusetts, Elam-Thomas distinguished herself with a diplomatic career at a time when few colleagues looked like her.
Elam-Thomas learned French, Greek and Turkish for overseas tours in Europe, the Middle East and West Africa, and served at the White House and the United Nations. Her unique life story and vision guided her career as a diplomat and earned her the Director General’s Cup and recognition from world leaders.
After serving as the U.S. ambassador to Senegal from 2000 to 2002, Ambassador Elam-Thomas retired with the rank of Career Minister after 42 years in the Foreign Service. She then became director of the Diplomacy Program at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. She holds a B.S. degree in international business from Simmons College in Boston, Mass., an M.S. in public diplomacy from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and four honorary doctorates.
Her memoir, the 62nd volume in the ADST-DACOR Diplomats and Diplomacy Series, relates the untold story of the “little Elam girl” from Roxbury who helped bring much-needed diversity to the Foreign Service. The Kirkus review called her book “an informative, behind-the-scenes look at one black woman’s rise through the ranks of the Foreign Service when few others like her were serving as diplomats.”
Lu Rudel, CreateSpace, 2016, $16.95/paperback, 390 pages.
In this second volume of his memoir, Lu Rudel focuses on his family—his wife of 53 years, Joan, and their three children—and their life in the Foreign Service, as well as their extensive travels over the years—both in search of roots and for, as he puts it, “sheer pleasure.” There is a section with several chapters describing the family’s evolution, and there is a section chronicling seven short-term, post-retirement assignments in China, Mozambique, Latvia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
By contrast, the first volume of Mr. Rudel’s memoir, published in 2014, focuses on the author’s professional life working with U.S. foreign economic aid programs after World War II. There he describes serving in Iran after the fall of Mossadegh, in Turkey after the military coup of 1960, in India after the death of Nehru and in Pakistan following the withdrawal of the Soviet military from Afghanistan in 1988.
Lu Rudel joined the USAID Foreign Service after completing his service in the U.S. Army. He retired in 1980. A Holocaust refugee, he came to the United States in 1938. He is also the author of Foreign Aid: Will It Ever Reach Its Sunset? (Foreign Policy Association of New York, 2005).
Nicolas M. Salgo, as told to Matthew J. Burns III; CreateSpace, 2017, $14.95/paperback, $9.95/Kindle, 310 pages.
When Nicolas M. Salgo was appointed the U.S. ambassador to Hungary in 1983, it was a strange homecoming. More than half a century earlier, he had been a boy in Budapest dreaming of a better life. The decades between his childhood and his return were full of romance, adventure, business and politics.
In this posthumous memoir, published after the author’s death in March, Salgo chronicles his journey through the 20th century and the lessons he learned about the nature of success along the way. (The title refers to a motto he coined during a seminar at Harvard Business School.) Salgo created one of the first conglomerates, the Bangor Punta Corporation, helped build the Watergate Hotel and was appointed ambassador to the country he once called home. After spending three years in that position, he went on to conduct a number of economic and administrative negotiations on behalf of the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.
Matthew J. Burns III, whose path crossed Salgo’s during a trip to Beijing in 1991, later joined the Foreign Service. He served in Rome, Tel Aviv and Washington, D.C., before leaving in 2005 to become director of international human resources for the Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Mark Wentling, Page Publishing, Inc., 2017, $24.95/paperback, 510 pages.
In this work of historical fiction, author Mark Wentling combines exhaustive research with firsthand experience throughout Africa to produce a remarkable book on the U.S. response to Somalia’s 1992 famine that both educates and entertains.
The story revolves around Ray Read, a Foreign Service officer who reluctantly accepts a difficult assignment, laying his life on the line in wartorn Somalia. Read persists in doing his duty despite difficult personal problems and his own growing doubts about U.S. policy in the complex emergency. Along the way readers will consume facts about the history, people and places of this troubled region of Africa. In the end, Ray recognizes that he is just one actor in a larger and quickly unfolding scene with unpredictable international implications.
Mark Wentling joined the USAID Foreign Service in 1977 and served in Niger, Guinea, Togo, Benin, Angola, Somalia and Tanzania. After retiring in 1996, he worked under contract as USAID’s senior adviser for the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa and as a consultant in Malawi, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia. Prior to joining USAID, he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer for five years, beginning in 1967, in Honduras and Togo, and then served as Peace Corps director in Gabon and Niger. His work and travels over the past 46 years have taken him to all 54 African countries.
Matthew Palmer, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2017, $28/hardcover; $13.99/Kindle, 400 pages.
Kate Hollister is a second-generation Foreign Service officer, recently assigned to Kyrgyzstan. Her uncle is the U.S. ambassador to the country, and he pulled a few strings to get his niece, who attended high school in the region, assigned to his mission.
U.S.–Kyrgyz relations are at a critical juncture. U.S. authorities have been negotiating with the country's president on the lease of an airbase that would expand the American footprint in Central Asia and could tip the scale in “the Great Game,” the competition among Russia, China and the United States for influence in the region. Negotiations are controversial because of the Kyrgyz regime’s abysmal human-rights record, and the fate of the airbase hangs in the balance.
Kate’s uncle assigns her to infiltrate an underground democracy movement that has been sabotaging Kyrgyz security services and regime supporters. Though she has an in—many followers of the movement were high school classmates—it soon becomes clear that nothing about Kate’s mission is as it seems.
Matthew Palmer is a 25-year veteran of the Foreign Service who is currently serving as the director for South Central Europe in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. He is the author of three other diplomatic thrillers, The Wolf of Sarajevo (2016), Secrets of State (2015) and The American Mission (2014), all published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Helena P. Schrader, Wheatmark, 2016, $22.95/paperback; $6.99/Kindle, 512 pages.
This award-winning work of historical fiction is Part III of a biographical series about Balian d’Ibelin, who served as an envoy for Christian crusaders. Balian survived the devastating defeat of the Christian army in the Battle of Hattin, and walked away a free man after surrendering the city of Jerusalem to the sultan, Saladin. But he is left as the baron of nothing in a kingdom that no longer exists.
Haunted by the tens of thousands of Christians now enslaved by the Saracens, he is determined to regain what has been lost. The arrival of a vast crusading army under the soon-to-be-legendary Richard the Lionheart offers hope—but also conflict, as natives and crusaders clash and the French and English quarrel. See the November 2015 FSJ for write-ups on the first two volumes of this story.
Helena P. Schrader is a career Foreign Service officer currently serving in Africa. Her previous assignments include Oslo, Lagos and Leipzig. Though determined never to earn a living through writing, Ms. Schrader has been writing all of her life. She published her first book in 1993, when her doctoral dissertation on the resistance to Hitler was released by a leading academic publisher in Germany; a second edition followed after excellent reviews in major newspapers. Since then she has published numerous historical novels set in World War II, ancient Sparta and the Crusades. Visit her website: www.helenapschrader.com for a complete description and reviews of her work.
H.K. Deeb, CreateSpace, 2017, $12.99/paperback; $2.99/Kindle, 308 pages.
Early one September, a young man known only as F. arrives by train in Hamburg, Germany. Impeccable in manners and appearance, he soon secures a job, an apartment, a girlfriend and an environment in which his soul feels at peace. At night, however, he is plagued by visions of violence and cruelty. In time it becomes clear that F. has a past he would gladly leave behind. A cast of characters—most of them women—cannot help but wonder about this handsome foreigner, whose charisma and fluent German are more than a little suspicious.
Incorporating elements of Franz Kafka and the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, The Haven is both a literary mystery and a modern fable about immigration and nostalgia.
Hadi K. Deeb, a Foreign Service officer, is currently posted in Tashkent, and previously served in Mexico City, Moscow, Baku and Manila. Prior to joining the State Department, he lived in Germany for four years, including one year in Hamburg.
Gregory E. Buford, Moontower Press, 2017, $10.99/paperback, $7.99/Kindle, 350 pages.
Chris Kelly, a first-tour Foreign Service officer, spends his days behind blast-proof glass interviewing visa applicants at the U.S. embassy in Cambodia—not exactly the glamorous lifestyle he’d had in mind when he joined the State Department.
Chea Phyrom is the nephew of Cambodia’s prime minister. He’s what people at the embassy call an “MRE”—morally repugnant elite—and he is the king of Cambodia’s sex industry. Protected by his uncle, he makes a fortune fulfilling the needs of the sex tourists who swarm into Cambodia every year.
Chea’s nemesis is Sochua Nika, the only female general ever in Cambodia’s armed forces. The prime minister made her the head of his anti-human trafficking unit with the tacit understanding that she would look the other way, but Sochua has other ideas.
Kelly secretly volunteers for IRM, an organization that rescues children from sexual slavery. When Sochua’s elite anti-trafficking unit, acting on a tip from IRM, raids Chea’s flagship brothel, Kelly finds himself at the nexus of a deadly political power game he didn’t bargain for. Chea vows to make an example of everyone involved—and he doesn’t give a damn about diplomatic immunity.
Gregory E. Buford has lived in Japan, India, France, Cambodia and Switzerland. He and his wife, Dana, a former FSO, currently live in Austin, Texas, with their children. Making Ghosts Dance is his first novel.
Ann Gaylia O’Barr, Scribblings from Exile, 2017, $7.99/paperback, $2.99/Kindle, 270 pages.
It is 1983, and Mark Pacer is a young U.S. diplomat assigned to the State Department’s Operations Center in Washington, D.C., as a watch officer. Late one evening, as Mark’s shift is about to begin, a senior FSO is attacked by an unknown assailant in an elevator at the Ops Center. Mark discovers the injured man, saves his life and then gets involved in the search for the attacker, who also stole classified documents.
The victim is the father of one of Mark’s friends, a former classmate who entered the Foreign Service with Mark but later resigned and disappeared from sight. Mark is drawn into the mystery, trying to determine what he is hiding and what may have happened to his son. Mark also faces trouble at home with his wife, herself a Foreign Service officer who has taken a leave of absence to care for their children. All of this takes place against the backdrop of a newly discovered disease, AIDS, which has already affected two of Mark’s friends.
Ann Gaylia O’Barr was a Foreign Service officer from 1990 to 2004, serving in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Canada and Washington, D.C. She is the author of eight other novels, including the first two books of the Mark Pacer series.
Charles Ray, CreateSpace, 2017, $3.99/Kindle, 280 pages.
When you get old, your memory starts to fade. What would you be willing to do to avoid that? When a pharmaceutical company offers a new “wonder drug” that it claims reverses memory loss, Ed Lazenby and his fried Ernesto Cardoza investigate. The two are concerned about the possible side effects of this new drug, but when people start dying after taking it the situation takes a dangerous and urgent turn. Can Ed and Ernesto figure out what is going on before more people die?
Negative Side Effects, the fourth volume in the Ed Lazenby mystery series, is one of more than 60 books, both fiction and non-fiction, written by Ambassador Charles Ray, who retired in 2012 after a distinguished 30-year diplomatic career. See above for a write-up on his most recent nonfiction book, Ethical Dilemmas and the Practice of Diplomacy, and more detailed biographical information.
Charles Ray, Uhuru Press, 2017, $5.99/Kindle, 295 pages.
Al Pennyback will do anything for his friends and relatives. So when an outsider offers to buy his cousin Winston’s land, an offer that seems too good to be true, Al’s relatives ask him to come home and look into the deal. Al returns to East Texas, a place he left as a teen and swore never to return to, and finds that nothing is what it seems. Things smell bad, both literally and figuratively. When Al starts digging, he unearths secrets that someone will kill to keep buried.
Over My Dead Body is the latest in the 27-volume Al Pennyback mystery series written by Ambassador Charles Ray. He started the Al Pennyback mystery series because he was interested in seeing more stories set in Washington, D.C., that focused on the ordinary people rather than spies, lobbyists or politicians.
Charles Ray; Daniel’s Journey (Volume 1): CreateSpace, 2017, $5.40/paperback; $0.99/Kindle, 104 pages; Trinity (Volume 2): CreateSpace, 2017, $6.29/paperback; $0.99/Kindle, 146 pages.
These first two books in Ambassador Charles Ray’s Wagons West series are aimed at younger readers but will appeal to Western fans of all ages. Set in the 1800s, the story follows Daniel Waterford, a 10-year-old boy travelling by wagon with his pioneer parents. In the first volume, Daniel’s Journey, the family endures a treacherous journey from Iowa to their new home in the Oregon Territory’s Trinity Valley. The second volume, Trinity, picks up Daniel and his family two years later in the town of Trinity as they cope with the changes that face frontier towns as they grow.
Amb. Ray launched the Wagons West series, centered on the experience of families, to correct the focus on lonesome cowboys, outlaws and cavalry rescuing beleaguered settlers that is more commonly associated with Westerns.
Charles Ray, Uhuru Press, 2017, $15/paperback, $5.99/Kindle, 378 pages.
Eight-year-old Elizabeth Parker was captured by pirates who murdered her parents. As an adult, she’s forgotten her past and become one of the most feared pirates in the Caribbean. She and her vessel, the Vixen, prey on American and British ships that sail those treacherous waters.
Colin Worth, the son of a Boston merchant, ran away to sea and ended up in the young American navy, an executive officer aboard the frigate USS Intrepid. But after a confrontation with his tyrannical captain, he is marooned in a ship’s boat and left to die at sea.
When Elizabeth and her crew find and rescue Colin, the two learn that their lives are entwined in a macabre way—they have a common enemy, Captain Beauregard Dangerfield, the demented master of the Intrepid, and a growing mutual attraction. Can two people from such different worlds co-exist, or are they fated to be enemies? To find the answer to these questions, they must first survive.
Ambassador Charles Ray retired from the Foreign Service in 2012 after a distinguished 30-year career (see above).
B.A. East, Moonshine Cove Publishing LLC, 2017, $13.99/paperback, $6.99/Kindle, 226 pages.
Gabriel Dunne’s federal internship with the Bureau of Government Intelligence and Execution has him tracking gun violence in America. But before Gabe can even start working at BOGIE, his boss, Chloe Gilchrist, tasks him with planning her wedding; Juston Parker wants help seducing their fellow intern; security chief Old Hubbard hounds him about expired passwords; and the shredder guy needs saving from his own deadly machine. Meanwhile, Congress threatens a government shutdown that will send them all packing.
As if all that drama weren’t enough, when one of Gabe’s colleagues is victimized by the very violence their office exists to prevent, these ordinary bureaucrats must fight back—or become statistics themselves in America’s next mad shooting spree.
B.A. East is a Foreign Service officer who has served in Saudi Arabia, Nicaragua, Ghana, Mexico and Washington, D.C. Before joining the State Department he taught English literature and composition in Malawi as a Peace Corps Volunteer and elsewhere. His debut novel, Two Pumps for the Body Man (New Pulp Press, 2016), has been described as “doing for American diplomacy what Catch-22 did for military logic.” Patchworks examines the American government and gun culture in a similar light.
East posts black humor on his blog: www.BenEastBooks.com.
Sarah Johnson, Cedar Fort Inc., 2017, $17.99/paperback, $7.99/Kindle, 320 pages.
In a world where using a magical gift is punishable by death, Eliinka has been able to hide her deepest secret ... so far. But she has no choice but to undertake a perilous crossing to a foreign land, where she’ll discover the truth about a powerful legend and the hope for peace after centuries of conflict. Her action will alter the fates of two nations and trigger events that might cause the destruction of her homeland. Set in an enchanting fantasy world, this novel is a page-turner for young adults, with compelling characters and relationships, including friendships and romance.
“Crossings is a haunting, beautiful book that never leaves you,” says Kimberly Loth, author of The Thorn Chronicles series. “Gorgeously written, its characters stay with you long after you read.” The story deals with issues of peace and conflict, and the irreconcilable differences between people and whether it is possible to get past them. It is also a story of moving to a new country and learning to adapt to a new culture.
Sarah Johnson, a writer, photographer and Foreign Service spouse, now lives in Cairo after postings with her family in São Paulo, Helsinki, Reykjavik, Guangzhou, Frankfurt and Abuja. She began writing in 2005 while living in Finland, and was later accepted to the Vermont College of Fine Arts where she earned an MFA in writing for children and young adults. This is her first novel. You can follow her blog at https://sarahblakejohnson.blogspot.com.
Stephen Holgate, Blank Slate Press, 2017, $16.95/paperback, $9.99/Kindle, 377 pages.
Tangier is a story of fathers and sons, the alienation of being a stranger in a strange land, the seductive face of betrayal and, finally, the lengths we’ll go to for redemption. It is two stories in one: a mystery and a spy story, set 50 years apart and woven together in alternating sections.
The first story follows Christopher Chaffee, a disgraced Washington power broker whose father, a French diplomat, died in a Vichy prison in 1944—or so Christopher believes, until a letter, received decades after it was posted, upends his life. The letter leads him to Tangier’s ancient medina in search of the father he never knew.
The second story takes place in Morocco during World War II. Rene Laurent, Christopher’s father, struggles to maintain his integrity and his life in the snake pit of wartime Tangier. The stories of father and son intertwine as Christopher unravels the mystery of his father’s fate.
First-time novelist Stephen Holgate is a former member of the Foreign Service who spent four years at U.S. Embassy Rabat. The peripatetic Mr. Holgate also worked as a congressional staffer, managed two electoral campaigns, acted with an improvisational theater group, worked as a crew member of a barge on the canals of France, and lived in a tent while working as a gardener in Malibu. He has published several short stories and many articles, and successfully produced a one-man play. His second novel, Madagascar, is due out in 2018. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
M.L. Wonder, Bliss Life Press, 2017, $11.97/paperback, $1.99/Kindle, 297 pages.
A decade after their pact to reunite, Adoma awaits the arrival of her three best friends on a remote island off the east coast of Africa. Memories of the events that have transpired since the four last saw each other come alive, revealing the twists and turns of life and love. Adoma recently left her former beau, a powerful businessman, and started over as a songwriter. But betrayal makes love seem virtually impossible. Meanwhile, Casey’s wild ways affect her employment—and possibly even her chances of finding true love. After Genna‘s husband‘s unthinkable secret comes to light, their perfect image and life begin to publicly collapse. And sweet Mya falls for a toxic man who exposes her pain and changes the course of her life.
Their reunion reaffirms the value of friendship, but then a turn of events threatens the life of one of the four. Will their sisterly bond survive, or will the reunion sever what binds them, forever?
Proceeds from the book will help support Malaria No More, a nonprofit committed to ensuring that no more children die from a mosquito bite.
Ghanaian-born, M.L. Wonder dabbled in poetry in high school, but it was diplomatic experience that inspired her and helped bring out her talent for writing. A member of the State Department Foreign Service for 10 years, she served overseas in Egypt, Colombia and South Africa. She describes Tenth Year in the Sun, her first novel, as standing “at the intersection of women’s fiction and West African culture.” She lives in Austin, Texas.
Ellen Crosby, Minotaur Books, 2017, $25.99/hardcover, $12.99/Kindle, 336 pages.
In spite of being saddled with massive campaign debts from the recent election, billionaire Jamison Vaughn seems to have the perfect life. But when the real estate mogul, Virginia vineyard owner and unsuccessful U.S. presidential candidate suffers a fatal car crash, Lucie Montgomery suspects foul play. Everyone else in Atoka, Virginia, is sure that Jamie must have lost control of his car on a rain-slicked country road. After all, what possible reason could he have for committing suicide … or was it murder?
Before long, Lucie uncovers a connection between Jamie and some of his old friends, members of an elite group of academics, and the brutal, 30-year-old murder of a brilliant Ph.D. student. The investigation into the two deaths grows more complicated when someone from Lucie’s past gets involved, forcing her to confront old demons. The race to solve the mystery becomes intensely personal as Lucie realizes someone wants her silenced for good.
Ellen Crosby, the wife of veteran FSO André de Nesnera of the Voice of America, began writing mysteries under her maiden name when her husband was posted to Geneva. This is the eighth volume in her Virginia wine country mystery series, which began with The Merlot Murders. She has also written a mystery series featuring international photojournalist Sophie Medina, and Moscow Nights, a standalone. Previously she was a freelance reporter for The Washington Post, Moscow correspondent for ABC News Radio and an economist at the U.S. Senate.
Alice Davenport & Peter Thomas, Música Eugenia, 2017.
At a time when many traditional diplomatic values and practices are being questioned, this music video makes a quiet case for the honorable role of the diplomat and the importance of sound diplomatic tradecraft.
The song was written in the art song tradition (which provides a classical musical setting for poems, with one vocalist and one accompanist). The visuals that appear in the video reflect an American perspective on history. Other perspectives will be equally valid. The envoy might live in any time period: however, the principles of honorable diplomacy and sound diplomatic tradecraft remain constant.
This entry is an original musical composition—the first-ever musical submission to “In Their Own Write.” As a song, it is intended to be heard, and you can access it via YouTube: “Musica Eugenia/sound advice.” Listening is free.
Retired FSO Alice Davenport collaborated with classical guitarist Peter Thomas to create this music video.
Laurie Pickard, AMACOM, 2017, $17.95/paperback, $9.99/Kindle, 240 pages.
Each year, the nation’s top business schools are flooded with applications from people eager to pursue their MBA dreams. But those aspirations come at a steep price. According to U.S. News and World Report, the average debt load for graduates of top business schools exceeds $100,000.
Laurie Pickard couldn’t afford that, but she needed a business education to land her dream job in international development. She discovered that some of those same prestigious business schools offer low- or no-cost MOOCs (massive online open courses). By picking the right classes from the best schools, she gained the skills, without incurring the debt.
Building on her popular No-Pay MBA blog, Pickard explains in this book how to define your goals and tailor an online curriculum that works for you, build a strong network and showcase your nontraditional education in a way that attracts job offers.
Laurie Pickard is the wife of a Foreign Service officer with USAID currently serving in Africa. She has written about self-directed business education and works as a development consultant, most recently as adviser to a USAID project in Rwanda.
Ken Seifert, Telemachus Press, 2017, $16.99/paperback, $5.99/Kindle, 64 pages.
Tired of wasting time during long layovers at the airport? Wish you had more hours in the day to exercise? This book will change your life ... or at least your waistline.
The Complete Guide to Airport Exercise is a first-of-its-kind manual on how to turn time wasted in airports into workout opportunities for anyone, regardless of age, sex or fitness level. The book gives descriptions and diagrams of cardio programs and upper-body workouts, fusing humor with practical tips on how to burn calories while working out as you wait to begin boarding your flight.
Readers will learn how to prepare and pack for exercising and how to use everyday objects to create dynamic exercise programs. The book also includes a comprehensive section on hygiene and clean-up, as well as recommendations for dealing with the extra attention of fellow travelers.
Ken Seifert, an FSO with USAID, is currently serving in Santo Domingo. A former Presidential Management Fellow, he worked at USAID for several years before joining the Foreign Service in 2010. He is also the author of a novel, The Rising Storm (AuthorHouse, 2007).
Lyla Bashan, Red Press, 2017, $19.97/paperback, $12.99/Kindle, 316 pages.
It’s a big world out there, and it needs our help, Lyla Bashan declares in this inspirational call to action. Global poverty, social inequality, famine, conflict and climate change are just a few of the pressing international challenges she explains to young people, before exhorting them to turn their passion for social justice into a global career of conscience.
This extraordinary guide will help readers learn how the international system works, identify the key problems and players, and kick-start a do-gooder career. Whether you’re a budding diplomat, an aspiring international development expert or anything in between, this is a must-read book for the change-makers of tomorrow.
Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to social justice causes.
Lyla Bashan is a Foreign Service officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development, who currently serves in Armenia as the director of USAID’s Sustainable Development Office. Her previous postings include Guatemala, Tajikistan and Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Lyla worked for several nongovernmental organizations, including Mercy Corps and InterAction, and was later a State Department civil servant.
Mikkela Thompson, Lulu Press, 2017, $18.21/paperback, 25 pages.
Food in Lima is writer, painter and photographer Mikkela Thompson’s tribute to the food she has tried in Lima, Peru. “The best part of food is who you eat it with,” the author begins, dedicating this book to her friends.
In one colorful spread after another, she shares some of the meals she has enjoyed with her friends. This slim volume is divided up according to categories: from traditional dishes named after a women’s sales cry during the War of the Pacific and “sanguches,” to the Japanese-influenced food called “Nikkei” and the contributions to the internationally renowned cuisine of Peru made by the waves of Chinese, Japanese and Italian immigrants to the country during the 1800s. The photos are intended to make you drool and to whet your appetite for food and travel.
A Foreign Service office management specialist (OMS), Mikkela Thompson is currently posted in Lima. She has also served in Bangladesh and Colombia, and as an OMS rover in the Western Hemisphere. The daughter of an FSO, she joined the Foreign Service in 2011 and prior to that was The Foreign Service Journal’s business manager for several years. Her M’s Adventures in Bangladesh was published in 2013 and M’s Adventures in Colombia was published in 2016. To purchase these books, and to follow her adventures, go to madventures.me.
Andres Valdes, Amazon Digital Services, 2017, $3.99/Kindle, 226 pages.
Why leave your short life up to chance when you can start living and leading by choice? This book is your kick in the pants!
As its title implies, Leader by Choice isn’t an academic exercise full of theories. It’s jam-packed with practical and motivational stories designed to help ignite your personal transformation through easy-to-implement advice and exercises for those ready to start living and leading.
The author, a proud graduate of “the School of Hard Knocks,” as he puts it, draws on his own experience surmounting the setbacks and tragedies he faced to demonstrate that one doesn’t need special talents, a new job or more education to change one’s life for the better. In this book he presents the seven specific decisions that took him from accidental to intentional living.
Andres Valdes joined the Foreign Service in 2005 and is currently serving as a management officer in Armenia. He has completed tours in Rwanda, Japan and Cuba, and an assignment in Washington, D.C., in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, where he worked on humanitarian diplomacy. When not at work or spending time with his family, the author mentors and writes or lectures on leadership, personal development and communication.
Corrinne Callins (author), Michael Cribbs (illustrator), Callico Press, 2017, $10.99/paperback, 20 pages.
Moja is a lion cub who has much to fear living alone with his mother, without the protection of the pride, on the Kenyan plains. But the wise lioness teaches Moja that he can overcome any threat by trusting God, and one day the little lion is tested. The story is based on Psalm 118:6—“The Lord is with me. I will not fear.” Pleasingly illustrated by Michael Cribbs, this book for ages 3 to 6 is the second from Callico Press. Dedicated to publishing thoughtful books that encourage readers to understand their value and worth and to recognize the value and worth of others, Callico’s motto is: “Encouraging faith and learning through truth and inspiration.”