THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2020 81 AFSA NEWS Book Notes Believers: Love and Death in Tehran AFSA welcomed Foreign Service luminaries Marc Grossman and John Limbert, both retired ambassadors, on Aug. 20 for a Book Notes Zoom presentation of their new historical novel, Believ- ers: Love and Death in Tehran (Mazda Publishers, 2020). Ambassador Grossman said that several years ago, he had an idea: What would have happened if, on Nov. 4, 1979, there had been one more U.S. Foreign Service officer in Tehran, who was not taken hostage? And what if that person had been able to survive outside of the embassy, and had been inserted into the various his- torical comings and goings of American-Iranian relations? Amb. Grossman said that though he had thought about writing the book for a long time, he realized he didn’t have the ability to do it himself, and that he didn’t know nearly enough about Iran. One day at lunch with Ambassador Limbert, he planted the idea, and over the next several years the two worked together to bring it to fruition. The co-authors set a series of goals, Amb. Gross- man said. First, they wanted to tell a good story that would make people want to turn the page and see what happens next. Second, noting that the pair have a combined 65 years experience of writing for the bureaucracy, they wanted to write something that didn’t sound like a State Depart- ment memo. Third, they wanted to pay tribute to the Foreign Service, the military, their intelligence colleagues and also the Iranians who have struggled for so many years for a better life. Amb. Limbert, who was among those taken hostage in Iran in 1979, shared that his connections to Iran go back more than 50 years. He had been there as a student, a teacher and a Peace Corps volunteer. But his deepest con- nection, he said, was as a member of a proud Iranian- American family (his wife is a naturalized American citizen of Iranian descent). He enthusiastically said “yes” to working on the project. Amb. Grossman said writing the book was a great experience, adding that one of the questions people ask most often is whether the co-authors have remained friends. “I’m glad to say that the answer to that question is absolutely yes,” he said. Marc Grossman served as ambassador to Turkey, assistant secretary of State for European affairs and under secretary of State for political affairs, among many other assignments during a 31-year Foreign Service career. He was also the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. John Limbert is a former deputy assistant secretary of State for Iran in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. During his 34-year Foreign Service career, he also served as ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. (See more about the book on p. 52 in the Journal ’s In Their Own Write feature.) n Ambassador (ret.) Marc Grossman, below, and Ambassador (ret.) John Limbert, left, discuss their new book with AFSA members via Zoom at the Aug. 20 Book Notes event. AFSA/CAMERONWOODWORTH AFSA/CAMERONWOODWORTH They wanted to pay tribute to the Foreign Service, the military, their intelligence colleagues and also the Iranians who have struggled for so many years for a better life.