Books by Foreign Service Authors - 2013

We are pleased to present this year’s roundup of books by members of the Foreign Service community.


The Foreign Service Journal is pleased to present our annual Foreign Service authors roundup in plenty of time for holiday orders. Whether you read the listings in print or online, we urge you to visit our online bookstore when a title strikes your fancy. There you will find all the books in this edition, as well as the volumes that have been featured in previous years—and more (Click here to visit the bookstore now.).

Below is our annotated list of some of the books written, edited or translated by Foreign Service personnel and family members in 2012 and 2013. This is not a definitive record of works by FS authors; we rely on the authors themselves to bring their books to our attention. The roundup was assembled with the vital assistance of editorial interns Jesse Smith and Valerie Sanders.

With only a slight drop-off from the robust numbers of last year, our roster contains a weighty and wide-ranging history section, a solid policy and issues section, an array of memoirs, a rich fiction section, several children’s books and an eclectic variety of works in the categories of essays, travel, education, oenology, genealogy and theology—as well as two very useful works on the Foreign Service lifestyle. As has been the case for a decade, a majority of the titles are self-published.

Our primary purpose in compiling this list 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 wares. Each entry contains full publication data, including the list price, and a short commentary.

As has become our custom, we also include a short listing of books “of related interest” to diplomats and their families that were not written by FS authors.

Once again, although many of these books are available elsewhere, we encourage our readers to use the AFSA website’s online bookstore to place your orders. The AFSA Bookstore has links to Amazon and, at no extra cost to you, each book sold there generates a small royalty for AFSA. For the few books that cannot be ordered through Amazon, we have provided alternative links or, when the book is not available online, the necessary contact information.

But enough crass commercialism. On to the books!

History & Biography

American Diplomacy and the Israeli War of Independence

Frank W. Brecher, McFarland & Company, Inc., 2013, $45, paperback, 212 pages.

In American Diplomacy and the Israeli War of Independence, retired FSO Frank Brecher takes on many of the historical assumptions surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict, particularly at Israel’s birth in 1947-1948. This work is a follow-up to his Reluctant Ally: United States Foreign Policy Toward the Jews from Wilson to Roosevelt, released more than 20 years ago.

In light of recently released primary sources from Israel, Britain, the United States and the United Nations, Brecher gives new consideration to such issues as Palestine and the Gaza Strip, the role of the U.N., and the introduction of Iran and Turkey, both non-Arab states, into Israel’s conflict. He acknowledges that while Jewish-related issues in foreign policy were of little concern at the start of the 20th century, by mid-century they had become a primary focus, and today are paramount to U.S. interests.

Brecher also examines the American role in the conflict—how it began and how it developed into an extensive involvement in the region, highlighting those individuals in the White House and State Department who most fatefully affected the conflict. Their interactions and disagreements, as well as the domestic and foreign interests at play in America in the late 1940s, have had an enormous effect on Washington’s current strategy toward the Middle East.

Frank Brecher has written several historical books on U.S. foreign policy, including Negotiating the Louisiana Purchase: Robert Livingston’s Mission to France, 1801-1804 (McFarland & Company, Inc., 2006).


50 Years in USAID: Stories from the Front Lines

Janet C. Ballantyne and Maureen Dugan, Arlington Hall Press, 2012, $15, paperback, 219 pages.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Agency for International Development, editors Janet C. Ballantyne and Maureen Dugan reached out to all agency staff, alumni and administrators to seek their thoughts on serving with USAID. This collection of 115 brief essays submitted in response to that invitation, organized by decade, is a volume in the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Memoirs and Occasional Papers Series.

During the 1960s, USAID and the Peace Corps challenged Americans to expand their vision toward the developing world. Contributors who served in those pioneering years proudly recount their role in aiding 31 newly independent African countries and launching Long-Range Assistance Strategies, the Alliance for Progress and the Technical Assistance Bureau.

The 1970s saw initiatives in Vietnam that combined economic and technical assistance and the counterinsurgency pacification program known as Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support. During the 1980s USAID expanded the countries it assisted as well as its work in health. New countries, a continuing focus on major disasters, and a heightened interest in democracy and governance programs dominated USAID’s work during the 1990s.

In the 21st century USAID has undertaken major reconstruction and development programs in Iraq and Afghanistan, and pursued new directions in agriculture, health and education. Contributors also reflect on the role of the new office of Director of Foreign Assistance that oversees USAID, State Department and other foreign assistance programs. Click here to watch the authors discuss the book at AFSA.


Hollywood on the Potomac: How the Movies View Washington, DC

Mike Canning, Friends of Southeast Library, 2012, $25, paperback, 270 pages.

The nation’s capital is often used in Hollywood films, sometimes as a setting for historical fiction or fantastical dramas, and other times simply as a backdrop for national symbolism or alien invasions.

Hollywood on the Potomac takes an in-depth look at 58 movies made between 1939 and 2011 (from “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” to “J. Edgar”). The comprehensive list allows readers to see how the city’s depiction in film has evolved alongside the film industry, and also how different genres and topics utilize the city, its landmarks and its history in different ways. The book includes a “goofs” section for each movie, exposing amusing physical and chronological flaws during its production.

Washingtonians and others familiar with the city, as well as movie buffs and political minders, will particularly enjoy this book. The author’s prodigious research and his analysis of the relationship between the movie, its material and the era of its production contribute to an engrossing read.

Mike Canning was a Foreign Service officer for 28 years, serving in eight countries on four continents as a press and cultural officer. A freelance writer on film, public affairs and politics, he has reviewed movies for the Hill Rag newspaper for about 20 years. He lives on Capitol Hill.


Early American Diplomacy in the Near and Far East: The Diplomatic and Personal History of Edmund Q. Roberts (1784-1836)

Hermann F. Eilts, New Academia Publishing, 2012, $34, hardcover, 255 pages.

“Anyone interested in the history of U.S. diplomatic relations in the Middle East and East Asia, or early American history, will be grateful that Hermann Eilts’ family pushed for this book’s posthumous publication as part of the ADST-DACOR Diplomats and Diplomacy Series,” wrote FSO Jason Vorderstrasse in his review of this book in the June Foreign Service Journal.

A merchant from New Hampshire, Edmund Q. Roberts had a significant impact on American foreign policy at a time when the federal government was small and depended on a loosely organized, self-financed and, by today’s standards, “unprofessional” cadre of individuals to advance the nation’s commercial interests.

Roberts departed in 1832 on a diplomatic assignment to ascertain the terms on which American merchants might be received in various Indian Ocean and Southeast Asian polities and, if possible, negotiate commercial treaties with those states. He negotiated the first U.S. commercial treaties with the ruler of Muscat and Oman and with the king of Siam (Thailand), but was unable to conclude a treaty with Cochin China. Nor did his proposal to open relations with Japan materialize until decades after his death.

Herman Eilts, an FSO from 1947 to 1979, served in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Aden, Yemen, Iraq, London and Libya, and was U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia (1965-1970) and to Egypt (1973-1979). After retiring, Ambassador Eilts founded and directed Boston University’s Center for International Relations. He continued to lecture and write until his death in 2006.


A Case of Loyalty: A Veteran Battles McCarthyism in the U.S. Navy Department

Arthur Stanford Lezin, CreateSpace, 2013, $13.50, paperback, 167 pages.

On Aug. 1, 1946, Ben Bernard Lezin was asked by the United States government to defend his loyalty to the country, or face termination from his engineering job with the Navy Department. Born in the Ukraine but a U.S. resident since age 12, Lezin was accused of having anti-American sentiments and of being a member of the Communist Party during the height of McCarthyism and the Red Scare.

As related by his son Arthur, Ben Lezin’s story eloquently represents the struggles of hundreds of other Americans, who were not communist sympathizers, to defend their loyalty to the very government that was feverishly discrediting them. In the end, Lezin would prove his credibility and save his career, but only after an arduous struggle that included intense scrutiny by the Navy Department and the FBI, as well as years of lost salary and work.

Arthur Stanford Lezin attended Reed College and Harvard University, and served in the Foreign Service with USAID. His career took him and his family to Guatemala, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, Pakistan, Zaire, Mauritania and Haiti. Lezin is also the author of From Afghanistan to Zaire: Reflections on a Foreign Service Life (CreateSpace, 1997). He and his wife, Alice, live in central Oregon.


A Kid From Philadelphia,: Mario Lanza: The Voice of the Poets

Emilio Iodice, published by author, 2012, $15, paperback, 178 pages.

Mario Lanza (1921-1959) was an Italian-American actor and tenor from Philadelphia. Known as a unique and outstanding performer, Lanza was an important influence on both Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo.

Emilio Iodice—a longtime admirer and scholar of Italian culture and arts, as well as leadership in all fields (including the arts)—pays tribute to this special performer in A Kid from Philadelphia. The book is a compilation of personal, non-academic essays, along with a posthumous letter to Lanza, honoring him for his remarkable career. Iodice admires Lanza’s ability to brighten his audience’s mood and to forge a new style of passionate, artful performance that led to his being called “The Voice of the Poets.”

Featuring large print, this dual-language (English and Italian) work comes with five CDs containing 100 of the artist’s legendary recordings.

Emilio Iodice, a retired FSO, is vice president at Loyola University in Chicago and director of the school’s John Felice Rome Center. As a Foreign Service officer, he served in France, Brazil, Mexico and Spain. He then spent five years as vice president for Lucent Technologies in France before moving to Loyola in 2007. He is the author of Profiles in Leadership: From Caesar to Modern Times (North American Business Press, 2012).


Profiles in Leadership: From Caesar to Modern Times

Emilio Iodice, North American Business Press, 2012, $45.44, hardcover, 343 pages.

All leaders throughout history have had certain characteristics and key achievements that elevated them to their respective positions, to be remembered for decades and even centuries to follow. Profiles in Leadership combines a thorough account of some of the most celebrated leaders with an analysis of the words, wisdom and actions that made them hallmarks of leadership to this day.

Emilio Iodice includes such figures as Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt and Oprah Winfrey in this book, demonstrating that not only political leaders but ideological and cultural ones, as well, fit the mold. For each, he undertakes an in-depth exploration of personality and actions to convey an understanding of his or her unique leadership qualities. Iodice offers the “Common Denominators of Great Leaders” to identify and replicate the primary attributes that led to the success of these historical figures.

For a biography of the author, see the previous entry.


A Quaker Goes to Spain: The Diplomatic Mission of Anthony Morris, 1813-1816

H.L. Dufour Woolfley, Lehigh University Press, 2013, $58, hardcover, 197 pages.

Few know much about Anthony Morris, who traveled to Spain in 1813 to dissuade the Spanish from allowing the British to attack the young United States during the War of 1812. A personal friend of Dolly Madison, wife of James Madison, Morris found himself thousands of miles across the Atlantic, attempting to complete his diplomatic duties in the face of a highly uncooperative Spanish government. To make matters worse, he dealt with colleagues bent on tarnishing his reputation and hindering the mission he had sacrificed so much to achieve.

This new volume in the ADST-DACOR Diplomats and Diplomacy Series is a fascinating window into the workings of the young State Department and one diplomat’s personal and professional struggles during the United States’ first war as a nation. Events occurred faster than messages could cross the ocean; by using a collection of letters written by Morris himself, Woolfley evokes the frustration the diplomat felt as his children grew up while he was thousands of miles away.

H.L. Dufour Woolfley is a retired Foreign Service officer who held various positions in Europe, including as political adviser to the commander of NATO’s southern flank. Earlier, he had practiced law in his native Louisiana, served in the U.S. Army for three years and graduated from Louisiana State University Law School.


Mongolia and the United States: A Diplomatic History

Jonathan S. Addleton, Hong Kong University Press, 2013, $40.50, hardcover, 186 pages.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia Jonathan Addleton seeks to shed light on the little-known history of U.S.-Mongolian relations in this new volume in the ADST-DACOR Diplomats and Diplomacy Series. While the two countries did not formally open embassies until 1987, they have been interacting for more than 150 years.

Nested between Russia and China, Mongolia is often overlooked. But as the author notes, much like the United States, Mongolia was once a great power born out of decisive leadership and the unification of various peoples. For this reason, U.S.-Mongolian relations have grown deep and fruitfully positive.

The author makes use of his extended time and experience in the region to give the book a personal flavor. As a result, it reads more like a historical narrative than a political piece. Readers searching for a simple history of the ties between the two countries, rather than a critique, will enjoy this.

Jonathan S. Addleton, a career USAID FSO, was U.S. ambassador to Mongolia from 2009 to 2012 and USAID country director there from 2001 to 2004. He received the Polar Star, Mongolia’s highest honor for foreign civilians, in 2012 for his work in strengthening ties between the United States and Mongolia. Mr. Addleton is the author of Undermining the Center (Oxford University Press, 1992) and Some Far and Distant Place (University of Georgia Press, 1997). Click here to watch Amb. Addleton speak about the book at AFSA.


Sharing Power: Colombia's Dramatic Surge of Women Leaders (1957-1998)

Barbara Frechette, iUniverse, 2012, $15.95, paperback, 172 pages.

Impressed by the prevalence of women leaders in South America, Barbara Frechette decided to investigate further. Originally published in Spanish, Sharing Power contains biographies of seven Colombian female leaders in fields ranging from art to journalism, law and more. These powerful women all managed to achieve success and elevate their stature considerably in society.

Frechette was intrigued that these leaders were not satisfied with miniscule roles in their communities. They aspired to attain power in Colombia despite the threatening environment created by the drug wars, at a zenith during the mid 1990s.

She provides compelling information on the individual women, as well as an analysis of the wave of gender reforms as a whole. Her contrast of Colombian and American progress in terms of gender equality is striking and contains valuable insights about both societies. In particular, she believes American women could benefit from an understanding of the Colombian model for women in politics.

Sharing Power will appeal especially to those who have an interest in women’s studies, government or policymaking, but is an enlightening read for anyone. This revised edition received a Five Star Award from Clarion Review in 2012.

Barbara Frechette, a journalist, editor and author, is the wife of career FSO Myles Frechette, who served as U.S. ambassador to Colombia from 1994 to 1997.


Timeless and transitory. 20th Century Relations Between Romania and the English-Speaking World

Barbara Frechette, iUniverse, 2012, $15.95, paperback, 172 pages.

In his foreword to Timeless and Transitory, Paul Michelson of Huntington University characterizes one of Ernest Latham’s most notable contributions to Romanian studies as “the kind of skillful ‘short essays on small subjects’ that comprise this welcome collection.” With one of the best personal libraries of Romanian historical and cultural materials in the United States, Latham has access to surprising and eclectically chosen resources.

One set of engaging essays feature American and British writers on 1930s and 1940s Romania such as Henry Baerlein, Sylvia Pankhurst, Rosie Waldeck and Olivia Manning. Two essays concern American POWs in Romania, and a third deals with American Jews and Romania. Three more essays center on diplomats, namely Marcu Beza, Donald Dunham and Dimitrie Demetrius Dimancescu. Others address Romanian nationalism during World War II, Romania in the Encyclopaedia Britannica and business dealings in the post-World War I period.

“The abiding sense emanating from the studies in this volume is that of a gentle beguilement by Romania and the Romanians, not only of the figures in the studies themselves, but also of their author,” says Dennis Deletant, Visiting Ion Ratju Professor of Romanian Studies at Georgetown University.

Ernest H. Latham Jr. is the coordinator of advanced area studies for Romania and Moldova at the Foreign Service Institute. A retired FSO, he was cultural attaché at Embassy Bucharest from 1983 to 1987. He also completed his Ph.D. in Romania, and has written and lectured on that country ever since.


Policy & Issues

Interesting Times: China, America, and the Shifting Balance of Prestige

Chas W. Freeman Jr., Just World Books, 2012, $25.20, paperback, 355 pages.

China’s rise to global power is happening faster than many realize, and a major shift in American foreign policy toward that country is in order. This is the view of Chas Freeman Jr., a distinguished diplomat with a long history of dealing with China.

Interesting Times is a compilation of 24 of Freeman’s most trenchant works in the area of U.S.-China relations, including his perception of the current issues facing both Beijing and Washington. Freeman insists that the two nations’ complicated relationship is exacerbated by their constant misperception of each other and their desire to attain (in China’s case) and maintain (in the U.S. case) a rightful position at the head of the global order.

Chas Freeman Jr. began his Foreign Service career in India in 1965. He served as the main interpreter on President Richard Nixon’s revolutionary visit to China in 1972, and then as director of Chinese and Mongolian affairs at the State Department, deputy chief of mission at Embassy Beijing, and assistant secretary of Defense. He was also ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War (1989-1992).

He is the author of America’s Misadventures in the Middle East (Just World Books, 2012), Arts of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy (United States Institute of Peace, 1997) and Diplomat’s Dictionary (United States Institute of Peace, 1994).


Aid, Insurgencies and Conflict Transformation: When Greed is Good

Rob Kevlihan, Routledge, 2012, $135, hardcover, 152 pages.

This book explores the question of how international humanitarian aid affects civil wars and insurgencies, using three case studies: Northern Ireland, South Sudan and Tajikistan.

Rob Kevlihan finds evidence for two distinct effects of aid on intranational conflicts. First, assistance can alleviate the underlying causes of insurgency movements and facilitate negotiations. Second, however, aid can become a source of revenue for the rebel groups as social-service organizations provide material and financial assistance to victims of the conflict.

Kevlihan explains the way insurgency organizations insert themselves as middlemen between international aid organizations and the target population victimized by the conflict in order to increase revenue for their cause. Surprisingly, his research suggests that the greed exhibited by armed rebel groups can have positive effects, depending on the specific conditions of the conflict and type of insurgency movement involved.

The spouse of USAID FSO Laurel Fain, Rob Kevlihan works in Accra as an adviser to the Regional Peace and Governance Office in USAID’s West Africa Division. This book is part of a series on security and conflict management edited by Fen Osler Jampson, Pamela Aal and former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Chester Crocker.


Civil-Military Relations and Shared Responsibility: A Four-Nation Study

Dale R. Herspring, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013, $65, hardcover and e-book (same price for both), 349 pages.

In his latest book, Dale R. Herspring compares and contrasts the defense establishments in the United States, Germany, Canada and Russia to identify factors that allow some civilian and military organizations to operate more productively in a political context than others.

Unlike such scholars as Samuel P. Huntington and Michael C. Desch, the author approaches this subject from a new angle, military culture, arguing that the optimal form of civil-military relations is one of responsibility shared by the two groups. Herspring outlines eight factors that contribute to conditions that promote and support that process, such as civilian leaders not interfering in the military’s promotion process and civilian respect for military symbols and traditions.

Students of civil-military relations will find much to debate in Herspring’s framework, while students of defense policy will appreciate his brief overviews of each country’s post-World War II political and policy landscapes.

Dale R. Herspring, a Foreign Service officer from 1971 to 1991, served mainly in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, specializing in political-military affairs. The author or editor of more than a dozen books and numerous articles, he has been the University Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Kansas State University since 1993.


Where Is the Lone Ranger, Second Edition: America's Search for a Stability Force

Robert M. Perito, United States Institute of Peace Press, 2013, $18.71, paperback, 248 pages.

In this second edition of Where Is the Lone Ranger?, Robert Perito argues that the end of U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan will not mean an end to the need to maintain security in the tumultuous Middle East and North Africa regions. With other conflicts ongoing, security and stability are anything but assured, and U.S. experience in Iraq and Afghanistan has shown that the military does not have the ability to ensure lasting peace.

Perito calls for a designated stability force that would be able to react to future crises and effectively foster economic and political recovery. In addition to military forces able to expel and secure in the short term, a stability force, he argues, would bring public order and law enforcement to scarred regions while utilizing a minimum amount of force. With the foundations for stability in place, economic, political and social reconstruction could take place more effectively.

Robert M. Perito, a retired Foreign Service officer, serves as director of the Security Sector Governance Center of Innovation at the U.S. Institute of Peace. He also headed the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program at the Department of Justice, and is author of The American Experience with Police in Peace Operations (Canadian Peacekeeping Press, 2002) and co-author of Police in War: Fighting Insurgency, Terrorism and Organized Crime (Lynne Rienner Publishing, 2010).


Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World

Graham Allison and Robert D. Blackwill, with Ali Ayne, The MIT Press, 2013, $17.95, hardcover, 232 pages.

Relations between Asian powers and the United States are constantly shifting, so insights into how to navigate the resulting diplomatic challenges are at a premium. Singapore’s longtime prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, is uniquely placed to offer such insights.

In this book, he bluntly describes how he sees major players like China and the United States interacting in the coming years and sheds light on the intentions of each, with the purpose of informing experts and leadership in both capitals. The book, which includes a foreword by Henry Kissinger, is drawn from interviews with and speeches by Lee from 1959 to 1990, during the period Singapore was transforming itself from a corrupt city-state into a forward-looking, wealthy economic center.

Graham Allison is director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Robert D. Blackwill is a retired Senior Foreign Service officer who served as ambassador to India from 2001 to 2003 and as the U.S. National Security Council deputy office director for Iraq at the start of the 2003 war. Ali Ayne served as a researcher at the Belfer Center from 2009 to 2012, and is now an associate there.


Alternative North Americas: What Canada and the United States Can Learn from Each Other

David T. Jones, Woodrow Wilson Center, 2013, free, e-book, 374 pages.

Over the past decade, there has been more than a bit of “Canada envy” among many American citizens. Looking northward, Americans see what appears to be going well in Canada: a peaceful, generally tranquil society; single-payer medicine; solid economics; and a generally docile political structure. But not so fast! There is a wide spectrum of Canadian culture, society and political life that should not be emulated—at least not if the United States wishes to remain the United States.

Alternative North Americas explores the underbelly of Canada, examining extensive problems in defense/security strategy; human rights; official languages complexity; criminal law; immigration/refugee policy; and economics. The study also reviews the ever-festering Quebec conundrum and the political disconnects in the Canadian West.

This e-book is part of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Canada Project, and is available for free download at Wilson Center website and at Scribd.

David T. Jones is a retired Senior Foreign Service officer who was political minister-counselor at Embassy Ottawa. He co-authored Uneasy Neighbo(u)rs (Wiley, 2007) and edited The Reagan-Gorbachev Arms Control Breakthrough: The Treaty Eliminating Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF) Missiles (Vellum, 2012). He has also written many articles, columns and analyses of U.S.-Canada relations for various publications.



The Houseguests: A Memoir of Canadian Courage and CIA Sorcery

Mark Lijek, Amazon Digital Services, 2012, $9.99/paperback; $8.99/Kindle, 318 pages.

This memoir opens with a droll explanation of how and why Mark Lijek came to join the Foreign Service, via a somewhat circuitous route that first took him from Georgetown to the Army. Lijek then describes how he ended up in Iran for his first assignment, and how his wife, Cora, joined him there just two months before the November 1979 embassy takeover—which would turn them and four other Americans into long-term guests of the Canadian mission in Tehran.

That experience, in turn, was one of the inspirations for the Oscar-winning Ben Affleck film about the episode, a connection Lijek recounts in “‘Argo’: How Hollywood Does History” (October 2012 FSJ).

As Editor Steve Honley noted in his review of The Houseguests in the January Journal: “Though the Affleck movie made a good-faith effort to convey what the Lijeks and their fellow ‘houseguests’ endured, that was not really its focus. Reading this book is the only way to truly appreciate the emotional roller-coaster the six Americans rode. Though there were lighter moments along the way, one can practically feel the walls closing in on them as the days go by.”

Mark Lijek, a Foreign Service officer from 1978 to 1996, served in Tehran, Hong Kong, Kathmandu, Warsaw, Frankfurt and Washington, D.C. He lives in the state of Washington, where he serves as the treasurer of the Anacortes Sister Cities Association.


Lessons from a Diplomatic Life: Watching Flowers from Horseback

Marshall P. Adair, Rowman & Littlefield, 2013, $38, hardcover, 244 pages.

“A delightful read,” is how Associate Editor Shawn Dorman characterized Marshall Adair’s book in her review in the September Journal. “As he brings readers along on a journey from Paris to Lubumbashi and on to Asia (including several China assignments), his engaging personal story offers insights into history and diplomacy, as well as context for the events he describes and the flavor of the places in which he serves.”

Adair, who grew up in the Foreign Service, recounts 55 years of life and work abroad. He begins with a discussion of a cautionary Chinese idiom that translates as “watching flowers from horseback,” the book’s subtitle. The phrase refers to the practice of observing a phenomenon from too distant a position, leading to superficial and incorrect, or “hasty,” judgments. While acknowledging the importance of seeing the world from a broader perspective, Adair implores diplomats to stop and smell the roses of their assigned country, instead of just viewing them from a distant and protected place.

The son of FSO Charles Adair Jr., Marshall Adair grew up in Latin America and Europe. During his own distinguished 35-year diplomatic career, he served on three continents and became an expert on Chinese politics and relations. He retired as a minister-counselor in 2007 and splits his time between homes in Arlington, Va., and Sugar Hill, N.H. He is currently a retiree representative on the AFSA Governing Board.


My Global Life: A Conversation With Raymond Malley

Raymond Malley, Xlibris Corporation, 2012, $19.99, paperback, 156 pages.

Readers interested in foreign affairs and global business should be fascinated by this extended conversation with retired senior diplomat and business executive Raymond Malley, a new volume in the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training’s Diplomatic Oral History Series. Because he moved between the public and private sectors of economic foreign relations, Malley is able to provide compelling insights into the differences between these two sectors.

In some ways, the book is also a history of the United States Agency for International Development. Malley joined the Development Loan Fund in 1961; later that year, the John F. Kennedy administration merged the DLF with another agency to form USAID. He worked overseas in South Korea, India, Pakistan and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), and soon mastered the intricacies of different elements within USAID as he negotiated and managed foreign aid programs in key Asian and African countries. He also formulated and introduced policies amid political infighting in Washington and Paris.

A former Senior Foreign Service officer, Raymond Malley spent 23 years in operational and management positions with USAID. After retiring in 1983, he undertook consulting assignments for the agency for the next 20 years, in addition to working as a senior executive with a global Korean industrial manufacturing group. He lives in Hanover, N.H., and teaches international affairs at Dartmouth College.


They Broke the Mold: The Memoirs of Walter Birge

Walter Birge, edited by Virginia Birge, Paul Mould Publishing, 2012, $13.54, paperback, 420 pages.

From an affluent beginning in peaceful New England, to a tumultuous and storied 12-year career as a Foreign Service officer during and after World War II, the memoirs of Walter Birge Jr. offer a window into the workings of the still-young Foreign Service during a critical era.

Walter Birge Jr. served as a Foreign Service officer from 1940 until 1953. The accounts provided in this book were written by Birge between 1990 and 1992 and edited after his death by his wife, Virginia. They detail the adventures of the FSO serving in such key locations as Turkey during World War II and Prague from 1945 to 1949. Known as the “Scarlet Pimpernel of Prague,” he helped many escape the communist takeover. He also served in Argentina, Mexico, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and French West Africa.

Later chapters recount vignettes from his time directing the Czech division of Radio Free Europe and his representation of the state of Ohio in Brussels as vice president of the international division of BancOhio.

Walter Birge died in 2002, at the age of 89, in Plymouth, Mass. His widow, Virginia Birge, who resides in coastal Massachusetts, edited his memoirs in 2004 and 2005.


Tip of the Dragon's Tongue: The Adventures of a Young American Diplomat in China

Tom Niblock, CreateSpace, 2012, $14.99, paperback, 216 pages.

Recalling his first tour as an FSO at Embassy Beijing, Tom Niblock offers stories of his travels throughout the city and other parts of China. Rather than write about the specific duties he has as a representative of the United States in that country, he focuses on his curiosity about, and interactions with, the Chinese people and their dramatically different culture and customs.

In many short chapters, with dialogue translated for the American reader, the author makes apparent the stark differences between Chinese and American lifestyles, as well as the differences among people and places within China. The experiences he recounts range from tours to feed hungry tigers to puzzling encounters on a crowded train (to the surprise of many locals, he was proficient in Mandarin). After two years, Niblock acknowledges that he has only touched the “tip of the dragon’s tongue,” but he clearly has some very memorable adventures to share.

Tom Niblock, who served in Beijing from 2010 to 2012, is now posted in Islamabad. A native of rural Iowa, he earned his master’s degree at Princeton University before joining the Foreign Service.


White Lilies in Autumn

Dustin W. Bradshaw, Millennial Mind Publishing, 2012, $22, paperback, 288 pages.

Never lose hope. That is the lesson that echoes through the pages of Dustin W. Bradshaw’s memoir, White Lilies in Autumn. After being devastated by the death of an infant, Bradshaw searches for ways to cope with the unimaginable loss. Much of the book deals head-on with facts of life that are seldom discussed openly, such as death, depression and abuse. His reflections on these topics give the work a dignified tone and lead to Bradshaw’s main point.

With a strong sense of storytelling, Bradshaw leads the reader through various points of his life, demonstrating how they are all connected. With the clarity of hindsight, he discusses the lessons he has learned. Bradshaw’s bravery in confronting the past and using it as a tool, as well as his intensely emotional descriptions, will captivate readers and provide inspiration.

After attending school and working in Hawaii, Dustin Bradshaw joined the Foreign Service and is serving in Manila. White Lilies is his first published work.


From the Inside Out

John David Tinny, New Academia/Vellum, 2013, $26, paperback, 312 pages.

In 1956 John David Tinny began a turbulent decade on the “Golden Road to Samarkand,” his vision of the pinnacle to an FSO’s career. He recounts that period in this new volume in the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training’s Memoirs and Occasional Papers Series.

The murder of the British vice consul on the very first day of Tinny’s initial assignment to the consulate in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, proved a grim portent for his chosen profession. After serving in Cairo, where Nile floods bring life and death, he moved on to Beirut. There he glimpsed hope in Palestinian refugee camps, witnessed the angry intensity of young Israelis, and came to realize that an intellectual understanding of the Arab-Israeli problem is not sufficient.

Despite what he describes as a professional misstep in Aden, Tinny was appointed principal officer in Benghazi—not long before the consulate was bombed in 1964. A murder on his last day there brought him full circle. His career as a Foreign Service officer ended aboard an Italian tramp steamer, not on the Golden Road.

John David Tinny served in Honduras, Egypt, Lebanon and Aden, accompanied by his wife Josephine and three sons. After leaving the Foreign Service in 1966, he worked for Occidental Petroleum and Conoco in the Persian Gulf and Africa. He later worked as a reference librarian until retiring in 2011.


The Joys and Perils of Serving Abroad

Diego and Nancy Asencio, Xlibris, 2013, $19.99, paperback, 264 pages.

From Diego Asencio’s initial posting in 1957 until his retirement in 1986, the Foreign Service offered him, his wife Nancy and their five children fascinating lessons about new cultures, people and places. Nancy and Diego tell their family’s story—all of it, both the joys and perils—with honesty and a great deal of humor in this new volume in the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training’s Memoirs and Occasional Papers Series.

The Asencios contended with everything from constant second-guessing by beancounters back in Washington to truly life-threatening situations. The most notable of these was the ambassador’s 1980 kidnapping by a Colombian paramilitary terrorist group, the 19th of April Movement. He was one of a dozen diplomats M-19 held hostage in Bogota for 61 days.

Diego Asencio served as U.S. ambassador to Colombia from 1977 to 1980, and ambassador to Brazil from 1983 to 1986, among many other Foreign Service postings over a 29-year career. Ambassador Asencio is a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Council on Foreign Relations.


Radio Free Europe: An Insider's View

James F. Brown, New Academia/Vellum, 2013, $22, paperback, 154 pages.

In this book, posthumously published as part of the Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training’s Memoirs and Occasional Papers Series, J.F. Brown describes the critical role Radio Free Europe played throughout the Cold War. A veteran RFE official who served as its director from 1978 to 1983, he offers a balanced and penetrating analysis of what made the broadcasting service tick. As he writes, RFE “broke the communist information monopoly and gave East Europeans the chance to think and judge for themselves.”

Brown explains how RFE functioned as a decentralized organization that empowered exiles, and points out what it could—and could not—offer East European listeners. Living up to the title’s promise of “an insider’s view,” his book illuminates the editorial policies and internal relationships that made RFE such a success.

His vivid portraits of key personalities illustrate the point that RFE was not just an institution, but a unique, multinational group of men and women who played a critical role throughout the Cold War. Brown’s insights are equally applicable to reaching present-day audiences similarly deprived of access to information.

James F. Brown (1928-2009) spent 27 years at Radio Free Europe. As its director, he played a seminal, behind-the-scenes role in the rise of the Polish Solidarity movement. He is the author of The New Eastern Europe (Praeger, 1964), Surge to Freedom: The End of Communist Rule in Eastern Europe (Duke University, 1991), Hopes and Shadows: Eastern Europe after Communism (Duke, 1994) and three other books on Eastern Europe.


Forever Traveling Home

Regina D. Landor, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013, $9.99, paperback, 188 pages.

Regina Landor invites the reader to join her in an adventure that moves from Eastern Europe to the United States, and back again.

As a Peace Corps alumna and the wife of a USAID FSO, Landor has had her share of overseas experiences. Opening up about her personal struggles and the difficulties of coping with family and children during travels, Landor shares her ups and downs in a reflective manner.

The concept of “home”—discovering what that term actually means and finding it—is an underlying theme that resonates especially strongly with Foreign Service families.

As the story progresses, Landor becomes stronger and better equipped to find a balance between all the stressors in her life. The road any Foreign Service family traverses can be rocky, but Landor has overcome every challenge.

Regina D. Landor lives with her husband, two sons and mother in Bangladesh, where her husband is completing a four-year posting. She has embraced raising her children abroad and spends her free time volunteering with her mother and making the most of local culture.


I Did It My Way: The Travel Adventures of Dorothea Bonavito 1948 - 2000

Dorothea Bonavito, compiled and published by Sallie Crenshaw, 2013, $21.95, paperback, 284 pages.

Through letters to her family and friends, Dorothea “Dot” Bonavito shared her experiences of traveling the world as a secretary to American ambassadors. She likens her passion for exploring to a travel bug that she cannot get rid of. Among the first group of women to gain entrance to the Foreign Service, she found the career to be the perfect means to satisfy her travel desires.

,p>Over the span of five decades, she recorded her adventures through writing, photos and a collection of travel memorabilia. She makes sure to include positives and negatives, as well as praising a new destination or questioning constricting customs. The letters show us the world through the author’s eyes, which proves to be a delightful perspective. Her excitement for discovery is contagious.


Also included are testimonies reflecting on her adventurous spirit from people Ms. Bonavito befriended or influenced over the years. It becomes evident that while she felt touched by her surroundings, “Dot” touched many others as well.

During her career, Ms. Bonavito visited more than 100 countries. Her friend Sallie Crenshaw sorted through more than 800 pages of written letters to compile this book for posthumous publication, because Ms. Bonavito’s family and friends believed that her story should be shared with the world.


Casting Off: A Solo Atlantic Voyage

Count Christopher de Grabowski and Daisy Richardson, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013, $12.95, paperback, 186 pages.

Count Christopher de Grabowski had an adventurous life that revolved around a deep love for the sea. Casting Off is his account of the 84-day trans-Atlantic voyage from Europe to New York City he undertook in 1959 on his beloved sloop Tethys, compiled and published posthumously by his sister, Daisy Richardson.

Exiled to Chile from his native Poland prior to World War II, de Grabowski sailed to England in 1941 to volunteer in the Polish Wing of the Royal Air Force. After the war, with his command of English (and six other languages) and a talent for photography, he joined the U.S. Information Agency in Tunis as a Foreign Service National.

He also devoted himself to sailing, winning many trophies racing on the Mediterranean. His dream, however, was to cross the Atlantic. After several failed attempts, he set out again in 1959. Crossing an ocean in a small boat is an incredible achievement, but recording all of the details and one’s thoughts and intimate feelings about the experience makes it exceptional.

Christopher de Grabowski was lost at sea in 1964, when the schooner he was captaining disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle. Daisy de Grabowski Richardson, the widow of FSO Robert P. Richardson and mother of active-duty FSO Margot Carrington, resides in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.


Ruminations from the Minivan: Musings from a World Grown Large, then Small

Alison Krupnick, CreateSpace, 2013, $13.50/paperback; $7.99/Kindle, 264 pages.

In 1989, prior to the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam, Alison Krupnick was holed up in a seedy Ho Chi Minh City hotel, hiding from people desperate for visas to resettle in the United States. Fifteen years later, she was holed up alone in her minivan in an American city, furiously scribbling stories on a notepad at every red traffic light.

The story of her transformation from world-traveling diplomat to minivan-driving mom is chronicled in this warm, funny memoir. Ruminations from the Minivan will take you on the trip of a lifetime.

Alison Krupnick, a former State Department FSO, served in India, Thailand, Vietnam and Washington, D.C. Her writing has been published in the Harvard Review, Brain, Child, Seattle Magazine, Crosscut, and various news and trade publications, literary journals and anthologies. She lives in Seattle, where she is the author of a blog, Slice of Mid-Life.


From The Projects to the Palace: A Diplomat's Unlikely Journey from the Bottom to the Top

Johnny Young, Xlibris, 2013, $19.99, paperback, 255 pages.

As its title implies, this new volume in the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training’s Diplomatic Oral History Series tells an American success story: the author’s rise from a life of poverty to the highest ranks of the U.S. Foreign Service.

Readers will follow Young as he learns the value of hard work in escaping from adversity, fights to attain an education, meets the love of his life and becomes an accomplished diplomat. He goes on to promote and defend American interests on four continents, and describes how he and his family dealt with the shared challenges and rewards of living and moving all over the world.

A career Foreign Service officer from 1967 to 2004, Johnny Young was ambassador to Sierra Leone, Togo, Bahrain and Slovenia, among many other postings. He was so successful in those challenging assignments that he rose to the rank of career ambassador.

After retiring from the Foreign Service in 2004, Ambassador Young became a private consultant, contractor and lecturer. He has been executive director of the Migration and Refugee Services Division of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops since 2007.


Fiction & Poetry

Red Army Red: Poems

Jehanne Dubrow, TriQuarterly Books, 2012, $16.95, paperback, 84 pages.

This collection of poems by Jehanne Dubrow draws on her experiences as a child of American Foreign Service officers growing up in the East Bloc during the Cold War. The poems combine coming-of-age themes that apply to both herself and the communist countries in which she lived.

While the fall of the Iron Curtain has inspired a great deal of art and literature, Dubrow provides an original perspective as an American adolescent discovering herself in the midst of the revolutions that overthrew the Eastern European governments. She also devotes a section of her book to poems about the laissez-faire culture in the West, giving contrast to the earlier sections.

Dubrow’s diction and unique style give vivid—and often startling—perspectives on the two sides of the Cold War. Some of the poems in this collection are “Moscow Nights,” “Crossing the Vistula,” “At the American School of Warsaw” and “Our Free-Market Romance.”

Jehanne Dubrow has published other poetry collections, including The Hardship Post (2009), From the Fever-World (2009) and Stateside (2010).


Buffalo Soldier: Peacekeepers

Charles Ray, CreateSpace, 2013, $9.95, paperback, 216 pages.

The fourth installment of Charles Ray’s Buffalo Soldier series, Peacekeepers centers on Ben Carter and his Ninth U.S. Cavalry, which is sent to Maxwell, N.M., to settle disputes between two groups of local landowners. While Ben would rather be spending his time on the frontier defending against Indians and outlaws, he sticks to his mission and endures quite a share of twists and suspense.

Throughout the ordeal, Ben and his men face the discrimination of the white townspeople whom he is assigned to protect. They must also deal with a callow lieutenant who is assigned to lead the group, but has no field experience. And if that were not enough, Ben is caught between the rivalries of the feuding family leaders and mysterious forces working outside of view. All of these elements work in concert to keep the reader on edge right up to the surprising climax.

A retired FSO and former ambassador to Cambodia and Zimbabwe, Charles Ray grew up in Texas and is a longtime student of American frontier history. In addition to the Buffalo Soldier series, he has written the Al Pennyback mystery series and many other works of fiction and nonfiction. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Ray spent 20 years in the U.S. Army, retiring as a major in 1982. He now serves as chair of AFSA’s Professionalism and Ethics Committee.


Dead Man's Cove: An Al Pennyback Mystery

Charles Ray, CreateSpace, 2012, $9.96, paperback, 214 pages.

On a boat trip in the Chesapeake Bay with some Washington, D.C.-area high society members, Al Pennyback is more concerned with his fear of water than anything else. However, shortly after arriving at their destination, Dead Man’s Cove, his attention is dramatically refocused when a member of the party is violently murdered. Now, instead of finally being able to relax on dry land, Al must uncover the killer before he or she strikes again.

Aside from the suspense, present in all of Charles Ray’s Al Pennyback mysteries (Dead Man’s Cove is Book 12 of the series), the protagonist finds himself immersed in a string of jealousies, hatred and general malcontent between his fellow vacationers. Solving this murder proves to be one of the toughest cases that the fictional detective has ever dealt with. Ray’s audience has come to expect dramatic description and thrilling plot twists, and Dead Man’s Cove does not disappoint.

Charles Ray has written more than 30 works of fiction and nonfiction, including the Al Pennyback series and a series of historical novels about the Buffalo Soldiers. For his biography, please see the previous entry.


Death From Unnatural Causes

Charles Ray, Uhuru Press, 2013, $12.95, paperback, 244 pages.

Al Pennyback has no shortage of leads when attempting to solve the case of the murder of elderly Geraldine Wallace, but each one takes this D.C. private investigator nowhere. He has to proceed without hard evidence, a motive or even a body while facing uncooperative antagonists. Yet he does some of his best work in this 15th novel of the series.

The protagonist has personal issues to overcome before he can start solving this senior-citizen murder, including his own discomfort with the elderly and the tragic loss of his son and wife. This novel is about an investigation that, as Pennyback and his audience will discover, does not have a traditional outcome.


The White Dragons: A Novel of International Intrigue

Charles Ray, Uhuru Press, 2013, $14.71, paperback, 388 pages.

A car is blown up in Dagastan, a landlocked country in the cold Arctic bleakness of Soviet Russia. When a young State Department employee, Lesley Carter, begins looking into the crime, she is murdered. Now, an intelligence analyst and diplomatic security officer are charged with finding out who killed her. They, in turn, are pursued by an assassin led by the shadowy White Dragons, who are trying to kill them in Washington.

From the first few pages, this sinister mystery will have the reader wanting to know more. Vivid detail and dark imagery are the specialties of author Charles Ray, and his complex plot about this fictional country and the mysterious people operating within it is riveting.

In chapters set in Dagastan, the eerie uneasiness and chilling sense of cruelty due to the desolate location and cut-throat atmosphere of KGB-like politics are palpable. In the parts set in Washington, readers will be caught up in the frenzy of fictional State Department employees trying to escape attempts on their lives.


Home of the Can Man's Daughter

James Vachowski, Battered Suitcase Press, 2013, $8.06, paperback, 76 pages.

Poppy Schaeffer is a war hero and a survivor of some of the most difficult times a man can endure. Nevertheless, he represents the small town of Christmas, Fla., and serves as an idol to his eighth-grade grandson, from whose perspective this story is told.

Once a sculptor of world landmarks who used nothing but beer cans and cement, Poppy’s deteriorating health parallels the decline of the town of Christmas. It is it up to his grandson, King, and King’s father to give Poppy one last gesture of appreciation in reflection of his humble and fulfilling life.

This short novel is full of heartwarming detail and is assuredly a feel-good read, especially for anyone with a charismatic, earthy figure like Poppy Schaeffer in their family. The concept of a parallel between the storied yet aging man and the declining small town in which he lives is simple, but well-written.

James Vachowski has served as a special agent with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security since 2011. Home of the Can Man’s Daughter is his fourth novel


Looking for Sarah: A Story of Survival

Margarita Gokun Silver, CreateSpace, 2012, $11.58, paperback, 391 pages.

This novel follows the tales of two Jewish women in two time spans of Russian history. Left behind in Csarist Russia in 1916, Sarah later reunites with her brother and, despite having already established a life in the Soviet Union, makes the daring decision to defect. In alternating chapters, the book also traces the hardships of Sonya, Sarah’s great-granddaughter, who exposes the secret of her great-grandmother to a Soviet official who is also her romantic partner. Abandoned and pregnant, Sonya seeks to learn more about Sarah and, in doing so, completely alters the course of her own and her family’s lives.

Silver portrays the adversity faced by Jews in the long and agonizing period of Russian transition from czarism to the communist era. Through the lenses of two women separated by time and distance, yet conjoined by suffering and hardship, Silver explores their lives during the Russian Revolution, Stalinism, the Holocaust and the Soviet Union.

Margarita Gokun Silver is an author, artist and Yale graduate who grew up in communist Moscow. Today she is posted in Madrid with her husband, an FSO with the Department of Commerce. A cross-cultural coach, she mentors expatriates and is the author of The Culture Shock Tool Kit: Three Strategies for Managing Culture Shock (see p. 43).


Murder in Mombasa

Robert E. Gribbin, published by author, 2013, $2.99, e-book, 169 pages.

This mystery tells the story of the murder of a Kenyan girl from the perspective of the U.S. consul in Mombasa. The suspect is an American seaman, but his alibi seems to prove him innocent. Still, the Kenyan authorities feel that they must hold someone accountable.

As the police and the public yearn for a suspect, it becomes clear that the defendant faces the distinct possibility of false conviction. But if the sailor’s alibi is confirmed, who did it? In a similar murder case, the perpetrator, an American military man, had recently been granted immunity. That outcome still smoldered in many Kenyans’ memories, and they were anxious for justice.

This work of fiction is based on a real murder case that took place in Kenya during the 1980s, when the author served as a consul at Embassy Mombasa. It gives insight into U.S.-Kenyan relations of that era and the difficulties this consul-turned-author encountered during his challenging assignment.

Robert E. Gribbin was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya before serving for 35 years in the Foreign Service in 14 African nations. He was ambassador to the Central African Republic from 1993 to 1995 and to Rwanda from 1996 to 1999, and is the author of In the Aftermath of Genocide: The U.S. Role in Rwanda (iUniverse, 2005). Today he writes, teaches and undertakes short-term assignments for the Department of State.

This book is available through iBooks and from


Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Peter Aleshkovsky (translated by Nina Shevchuk-Murray), Russian Life Books, 2013, $14.40, paperback, 332 pages.

Two collections of short stories, separated in time by the post-USSR Russian transformation, are used to create Peter Aleshkovsky’s unusual novel. The works from 1990 and 2010 are presented together to allow readers to witness the depth of Russia’s political and cultural transition through the semantic shifts in these very rich and personal pieces.

Despite borrowing from Russian greats like Nikolai Leskov and Nikolai Gogol, Aleshkovsky distinguishes his own version of Stargorod, which means “an old town” in Russian, with allusions and humor that those familiar with evolving Russian culture are sure to enjoy. His stories are full of poetic detail and offer artful and intuitive dialogue that evokes feelings of humanity and community.

Stargorod is the third novel by Peter Aleshkovsky—a well-known Russian writer and archaeologist, whose works also include Skunk: A Life (Glas, 1997)—to be translated into English. And it is the second translated by Nina Shevchuk-Murray, a Foreign Service officer who was born in the Ukrainian city of L’viv. A translator of poetry and prose from the Russian and Ukrainian languages, she previously translated Aleshkovsky’s Fish: A History of One Migration.


The Women's Coffee Shop

Andriana Ierodiaconou, CreateSpace, 2012, $8.55, paperback, 238 pages.

This murder mystery is set on an eastern Mediterranean island shortly after the end of colonial rule, during a period of rapid change and growing conflict between Christians and Muslims.

As the story opens, Angelou Pieri, a social activist who has dared to open a coffee shop for the women of the village, where they can drink and gossip like the men, has just discovered that her good friend, Avraam Salih, is dead.

Because of his Christian-Muslim background and professional, political and romantic exploits, Salih’s murder proves difficult to untangle. Yet Angelou and the women of her culturally suspect coffeehouse are determined to discover the motives for the killing and identify the perpetrator. As readers turn the pages, they will relish the descriptive imagery and complex setting of the novel, and will not want to rest until the mystery has been solved.

Andriana Ierodiaconou, the wife of retired FSO Alan Berlind, is a Cypriot author, poet and former journalist who writes in both English and Greek. She graduated from Oxford University with a degree in biochemistry, but chose to pursue her passion for writing. Her first novel was Margarita’s Husband (Armida, 2007).


Leonidas of Sparta: A Heroic King

Helena P. Schrader, Wheatmark, 2012, $25.95, paperback, 584 pages.

As this third volume in a trilogy of biographical novels about the title character and his faithful wife, Queen Gorgo, opens, Persia has crushed the Ionian revolt and is gathering a massive army to invade and punish mainland Greece. Meanwhile, in Sparta the dangers are even closer to home, as Leonidas and Gorgo do their best to steer their beloved city-state through the dangerous waters of domestic strife and external threat.

The first book in the series, A Boy of the Agoge, described Leonidas’ childhood in the Spartan public school, while the second, A Peerless Peer, focused on his years as an ordinary citizen. This final installment tells the story of his rise to power and tumultuous reign. The murder of two Persian ambassadors by an agitated Spartan Assembly sets in train the inevitable conflict between the two powers that will take Leonidas to Thermopylae—and into history.

FSO Helena P. Schrader is an economic officer in Addis Ababa. Her previous assignments include Oslo, Lagos and Leipzig. In addition to two novels about Sparta, she has published several non-fiction works, including The Blockade Blockers (History Press, 2008) about the Berlin Airlift, and Sisters in Arms: British and American Women Pilots During World War II (Pen & Sword Books, 2006).


Africa's Embrace

Mark Wentling, Peace Corps Writers, 2013, $16.78, paperback, 336 pages.

This novel beckons the reader to join the lively narrative of David, known by his new African name “Bobovovi,” on a life-altering journey to a land far away from his rural Kansas upbringing.

David first travels to West Africa on a Peace Corps mission with the intention of spending a few years achieving his goals before returning to regular life in the United States. Though his plans keep going awry, David (Bobovovi) finds his connection to the continent growing ever stronger, and he is less and less able to let go.

The reader will become enticed by the magic that surrounds Bobovovi, largely inspired by the rich history and mystical customs that are still prevalent in modern-day Africa. His spiritual moonbeam experience causes him to be regarded as a hero, and he finds that his life is becoming ever more intertwined with the culture than he could have imagined. Through all of his relationships and loves, Bobovovi grows and experiences the adventures that make up life.

Before joining the Foreign Service, Mark Wentling was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras and Togo. During his subsequent career with USAID, he was posted to Niamey, Conakry, Lomé, Mogadishu and Dar es Salaam. After retiring from the Foreign Service, he has continued to work in Africa. Over the past four decades, he has visited all 54 countries on the continent.


Jewelry from a Grave: A P.J. Smythe Mystery

Caroline Taylor, Five Star Publishing, 2013, $25.95, hardcover, 276 pages.

A gripping adventure mystery, Jewelry from a Grave is the story of an aspiring investigator, P.J. Smythe, and her search to uncover the truth behind the strange and deadly occurrences that surround her.

In a spy-studded Annapolis, the young and witty Smythe hopes to find the connection between her missing roommate and two other deaths. At the center of this page turner are conspiracies, expensive jewelry and many characters who constantly find themselves at risk of becoming potential suspects.

The novel’s fast pace and strong female lead elevate it above the average spy story. The characters are smart and the development flows smoothly. As the reader gets deeper into the story, more complex issues are uncovered, yet P.J. keeps her keen wit and sense of humor.

Caroline Taylor was a member of the Foreign Service from 1969 to 1972, serving in Tel Aviv and Quito. Shortly after leaving the Service, she launched a career as a writer and editor, but only recently found her calling in fiction. This is the second book in the P.J. Smythe series, after What Are Friends For? Ms. Taylor resides in Pittsboro, N.C.


The Soul Murderer: A Psychological Mystery

Bill Lenderking, Books First, 2013, $18, paperback, 452 pages.

Set in the 1970s, The Soul Murderer is a riveting psychological mystery that takes the reader to a geographically isolated embassy in fictional Tanako, a country that harbors unfriendly attitudes toward Americans.

Based on a 1971 incident in Equatorial Guinea, in which an FSO killed his subordinate in the tiny embassy, this novel explores the complexities of human motivation and decision-making.

The author establishes the eerie setting immediately. Embassy staff members feel frustration and conflict among each other that is rooted in the precariousness of their security under the grip of a controlling, abusive government. The characters are well-developed, and the tensions between them, both internal and external, are extremely realistic. This book is a chilling and thought-provoking read.

Bill Lenderking, an FSO from 1959 to 1994, served overseas in Cuba, Bolivia, Japan, Vietnam, Italy, Thailand, Peru and Pakistan. After retirement, he worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He is currently a freelance writer and book dealer in Washington, D.C.


Diplomatic Tales: Stories of the Foreign Service (2 vols.)

William S. Shepard, Seth B. Cutler Press, 2013, $3.49, Kindle Edition.

Diplomatic Tales combines two e-books, each originally published separately: a memoir and a short story collection.

Sunsets in Singapore: A Foreign Service Memoir offers an insider’s view of how an American embassy operates. The story reflects William Shepard’s actual diplomatic career, which spanned a quarter-century, ranging from administrative duties as a General Services Officer in tropical Singapore to political analysis behind the Iron Curtain in Budapest. The book is a helpful, practical guide to the challenges facing career officers, from personal security to representation and the professional skills needed to meet them—not to mention the challenges diplomatic families face as they move around the globe.

Embassy Tales: Stories of the Foreign Service is the perfect companion to that volume. Through 20 short stories, the author explores every section of an American embassy, from the glamorous ambassadorial suite to the visa line. While learning how a diplomatic mission functions, readers will also encounter jealousy, love lost and gained, ghosts and even murder (it happens in the best of families, after all). Shepard writes not only to entertain and edify, but to inspire a new generation of young Americans to join the Foreign Service. If any anthology can achieve that goal, it would be this one.

Career FSO William S. Shepard, who retired as consul general in Bordeaux, also served in Singapore, Saigon, Budapest, Athens and Washington, D.C. He has written more than a dozen other books on a variety of topics, including several collections of mysteries, a history of “unknown” conflicts and a guide to French wines.


Havana Queen

James Bruno, Bittersweet House Press, 2013, $13.99/paperback; $4.99/Kindle, 393 pages.

While Fidel and Raul Castro sink deeper into dementia and their health fails, sultry Cuban spymaster Larisa Montilla takes on the CIA in a desperate ploy to save the communist regime. As the bodies pile up in a tit-for-tat shadow war of assassination, FBI Agent Nick Castillo defies orders and travels clandestinely to Havana. There he gets more than he bargained for, falling into a trap set by Montilla, Fidel’s heir apparent. But her leverage is matched by his discovery of a deep secret in her past.

Meanwhile, Nick also has to ferret out a web of spies deep inside the U.S. government and foil an assassination plot against the Castros’ number-one enemy, the U.S. president. Steeped in the world of government secrets, and drawing on his diplomatic service in Cuba, the author makes readers feel like they’ve been cleared into a top-secret program.

James Bruno was a State Department diplomat for 23 years, and is currently a member of the Diplomatic Readiness Reserve, subject to worldwide duty on short notice. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, he worked as a military intelligence officer and as a journalist. Mr. Bruno’s Foreign Service assignments included Guantanamo Naval Base (where he was a liaison to the Cuban military), Pakistan, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cambodia and Washington, D.C.

Three previous political thrillers by Mr. Bruno were all best sellers: Chasm (2007), Tribe (2011) and Permanent Interests (2012).


Children's Books

A Street Dog's Story: The Almost 100% True Adventures of Labi

Eric and Tracy Whittington, Illustrations by Alessandro Vene, published by the authors, 2012, $2.99, e-book, 37 pages.

After growing up as a street dog in the Congo, Labi is brought home by a human and must adjust to the rules and animals within her new home. This heartwarming, illustrated children’s tale tells the story of the trials Labi faces in adjusting to this new way of life, including learning how to be a house dog and accepting that she cannot eat the family cat.

In addition to being an endearing read, the book is full of wonderful illustrations depicting Labi and all of her friends. Its e-book format allows the reader to double-click to enlarge the story’s font as needed.

Importantly, 25 percent of the proceeds for A Street Dog’s Story will be donated to Humane Society International’s Street Dog Defender Campaign, which fights for the protection of stray dogs worldwide that are subject to inhumane treatment by governments and individuals.

Eric and Tracy Whittington, a tandem Foreign Service couple, have served in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Armenia, Canada and Bolivia. They are currently working on a sequel to the book, titled A Street Dog’s Mission, to be released in 2014. They live in Virginia with their Congolese street dog and Bolivian street cat. (See below for a book on genealogy by Tracy herself.)


World Adventurers for Kids

M.G. Edwards, Brilliance Press, 2013, $11.65, paperback, 96 pages.

This compilation of three children’s books (Alexander the Salamander, Ellie the Elephant and Zoe the Zebra) is designed to teach children valuable lessons while providing entertaining stories and beautiful illustrations of global landmarks and wild environments.

Young children will enjoy the stories of an adventuring salamander with his rainforest friends, a courageous elephant attempting to achieve his goal of playing polo, and a group of defensive pals from the African bush set against a bullying pack of hyenas. The stories are supplemented by wonderfully illustrated vistas and humorously drawn animals with large eyes. The book is in large print, which makes it easy to read for both young kids and adults of all ages.

After serving as an FSO in South Korea, Paraguay and Zambia, M.G. Edwards left the Foreign Service in 2011 to write fantasy, thriller, travel and children’s books full time. He currently lives in Bangkok with his wife, Jing, and their elementary-aged son, Alex.



Blaming No One: Blog Postings on Arts, Letters, Policy

Dan Whitman, New Academia Publishing, 2012, $23.40, paperback, 258 pages.

A variety of topics comprise this volume of blog postings by Dan Whitman, who was compelled to publish his thoughts in the blogosphere to “scratch an itch.” As it turns out, he became quite comfortable with the 800-word-maximum format, producing enough posts to amass an audience and publish a book.

The author first garnered attention after blogging about his interactions with Laurent Gbagbo, the former “young African leader,” so labeled by the United States years ago, who ended up ruling Côte d’Ivoire in a heavy-handed dictatorship until his arrest in April 2011.

Not all of Whitman’s reflections pertain to his tenure in the Foreign Service. Also included in this book are pieces related to science, history and the arts—though most of them do relate to foreign affairs and policy. Whitman has learned to make good use of 800 words, concisely providing insight on a variety of subjects about which he has a great deal of knowledge.

Dan Whitman was a Foreign Service officer for both the U.S. Information Agency and the Department of State, finishing his service in 2009. He served in Denmark, Spain, South Africa, Haiti and Cameroon. He is the author of four other books, including A Haiti Chronicle: The Undergoing of a Latent Democracy (Trafford, 2005), and has written for The Foreign Service Journal. He teaches foreign policy at American University.


Slow Roads! Beautiful Drives Through Portugal for Cars & Motorcycles

Jorge M. Serpa, Adamastor Travel, 2011, $24.99, paperback, 272 pages.

This is a driver’s travel guide to Portugal’s mountains, coastlines and villages. It outlines 13 separate tours through various parts of the country, which consist of cultural and historical sites and recommended places to eat and sleep, as well as other places the author found remarkable. In addition to having numerous maps, the book can be registered online for easy GPS use, allowing the reader to input the coordinates for places they would like to stop.

Jorge Serpa was born in Lisbon and has traveled extensively with his wife, FSO Lucy Tamlyn. He wrote this book in 2009, when, due to State Department regulations, he was not allowed to accompany his wife on her one-year tour in Iraq. During that year, he moved back to Portugal and traveled the country, gaining detailed knowledge of its byways.


Claiming Your History: How to Incorporate Your Past Into Your Present

Tracy Whittington, published by the author, 2012, $3.99, e-book.

You don’t have to be royalty to have a reason to browse your own family history, according to this how-to book by FSO Tracy Whittington. While some lineages seem on the surface to have contributed more to history than others, Whittington says, every person and every family contributes to the flow of events in this world, and their histories are equally worth discovering.

Only a recent genealogist herself, Whittington wrote this book to pass on the techniques she has discovered to readers interested in undertaking the valuable experience of perusing their families’ past.

The book is divided into four sections: genealogy, heirlooms, home and tradition. In each, the author supplies different tools and approaches to navigate the findings and discover the sought-after information. In today’s technologically advanced world, Whittington argues, it has never been easier for every person to delve into their own familial past, whether royalty or not.

Tracy Whittington has served with her husband, Eric, also an FSO, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Armenia, Canada and Bolivia. A member of the Foreign Service Journal Editorial Board, she writes blogs, books and screenplays, and currently lives in Virginia.


The Culture Shock Tool Kit: Three Strategies for Managing Culture Shock

Margarita Gokun Silver, GCC Expat Productions, 2012, $4.99, paperback, 83 pages.

This is a toolkit for anyone leaving their country of origin for an extended time and dealing with the pains of adjusting to a new life abroad. In it, Margarita Gokun Silver reaches out to readers in four languages (English, Spanish, French and Russian) with an interactive solution to help smooth such transitions.

The approach is based on the ability to recognize and change a particular perspective, and is, in part, adapted from Dr. John Gottman’s work on relationships. In a series of exercises, readers are helped to evaluate their own emotional setting and work toward the mindset they wish to attain during their stay abroad.

Margarita Gokun Silver is an author, artist and Yale graduate who grew up in communist Moscow. She is posted in Madrid with her husband, an FSO for the Department of Commerce. A cross-cultural coach, she mentors other expatriates and has also written a novel, Looking for Sarah: A Story of Survival (see above)


Moving Your Household Without Losing Your Mind: An AAFSW Book

Kelly Bembry Midura and Zoe Cabaniss Friloux, eds., Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide, 2013, $9.99, paperback, 206 pages.

Dubbing itself “The Foreign Service Companion,” Moving Your Household Without Losing Your Mind is the first installment of a series addressing various aspects of Foreign Service life.

This guide offers input from numerous contributors regarding the often-tedious logistics of relocation that all Foreign Service families must face. The varying perspectives provide a spectrum of advice from individuals who have already lived and learned from the trials and tribulations synonymous with Foreign Service life.

Featured are tips on practical matters such as changing posts, creating home inventories, shipping pets safely, efficient packing and much more. The book also contains heartfelt stories from people who have experienced something particularly difficult during their travels. A humorous addition is a list, “You might be in the Foreign Service if…,” that consists of playful truisms that any FS family member can relate to. Also included are lists of various agencies and information centers that are vital resources for families. Overall, the guide is invaluable for first-timers and FS veterans alike.

Kelly Bembry Midura and Zoe Cabaniss Friloux, both spouses of FSOs, are seasoned and articulate exponents of the Foreign Service lifestyle.


Reading Is So Easy: Teaching Your Child Success in Reading

Susan van Ravenswaay, Mariner Publishing, 2012, $20, paperback, 49 pages.

Reading is So Easy is a unique tool for teaching early reading skills. The crisp, clear instructions make the book easy for both parents and children to understand. Directions are provided for the instructor to teach the lessons, and pointers are included for children to truly grasp the lesson material. The book uses simple, proven approaches that can be applied to children from anywhere in the world who are trying to learn English.

An emphasis on vowels is what distinguishes this method from others. Consonants, the author notes, are more straightforward and easier to grasp. Vowels, on the other hand, can prove to be very tricky for beginners due to the many different sounds they can make within words.

The author draws on her international experience in developing successful educational tools for reading, and this book is meant to help other parents and educators, especially children who may be growing up abroad.

While traveling the world with her FSO husband, Lyle van Ravenswaay, the author started schools in Libya and Togo (the latter is still in existence). She brought the skills acquired while teaching at these schools home to the United States, where she became a literacy volunteer. It was at this point that she decided to share her teaching method through this book.


Caring for Your Gay Teen

James Brush,, 2013, $2, e-book.

Parenting teenagers is a daunting undertaking in the best of circumstances. For parents of a teen who might be questioning his or her sexual identity, who might have interests considered unusual for his or her gender, or who might not be heterosexual, the challenges can be even greater.

Caring for Your Gay Teen is a primer for parents who wish to support their gay or questioning teen. In it, Dr. James Brush presents the latest research and developing consensus on these issues in nontechnical prose. He candidly explores potential dangers and offers realistic strategies and suggestions. At the same time, he reassures parents about their ability to navigate the situation, gently challenging them to be assertive advocates for their child’s needs and rights.

“Gay teens whose parents use this advice will more likely transit adolescence with a deep sense of nonjudgmental support, which provides a foundation for self-esteem, coping skills and well-being. As a clinical psychologist working with families and individuals for 30 years, I highly recommend Caring for Your Gay Teen,” says Dr. Mike Bowers of Denver, Colo.

James Brush, the spouse of Foreign Service health practitioner Marianne Knue, is a child psychologist in the Child and Family Program of the State Department’s Office of Medical Services.


In Caesar's Household

Ernest H. Latham Jr., Editura Vremea, 2013, $15.55, paperback, 128 pages.

In Caesar’s Household is a collection of sermons by the author that were delivered while he was serving in Romania and Greece between 1983 and 1987 and shortly thereafter. In them he covers a number of overarching themes, many of which involve attitudes and ideas prevailing in the region at the time—most notably, the Cold War and communism and how they subsequently intertwined with faith and religion.

Ernest H. Latham Jr. was the American cultural attaché in Romania and Greece in the 1980s. He is currently the coordinator of advanced area studies for Romania and Moldova at the Foreign Service Institute. He is also the author of Timeless and Transitory: 20th Century Relations Between Romania and the English Speaking World (see above).


Shepard's Guide to Mastering French Wines

William S. Shepard, Uncle Seth Cutler Press, 2011, $5.95, Kindle Edition.

This volume updates the author’s well-regarded 2003 guidebook by covering the Bordeaux vintages of 2005, 2009 and 2010, and the celebrated Burgundy vintage of 2009. But it retains the thoroughness and humor of the original.

William Shepard’s central mission is to get readers to stop relying on point scores, and develop their own good taste to appreciate these fine wines. Though he belongs to five prestigious French wine societies, he wears his knowledge lightly.

The guidebook is user-friendly, following a logical progression from the regions of Bordeaux (the Médoc, St. Emilion and Pomerol) to Burgundy (with separate chapters for the celebrated regions of the Côte d’Or, Champagne and the Rhône Valley). Shepard thoughtfully embeds hyperlinks for all the wine producers in each region, along with e-mail addresses to facilitate readers who wish to make appointments.

Career FSO William S. Shepard, who retired as consul general in Bordeaux, also served in Singapore, Saigon, Budapest, Athens and Washington, D.C. He has written more than a dozen books on a variety of topics.


Susan Brady Maitra is Senior Editor for The Foreign Service Journal.