The Foreign Service Is Writing

Letter from the Editor


This month we’re all about reading and writing (and USAID, but more on that in a minute), as we present the annual roundup of books by members of the Foreign Service community. We hit a new record this year, featuring 100 books published by FS authors. That’s almost four times more than when we first started this fall tradition back in 2000. It’s more than double our number (49) from 2010. But it’s the past two years that have seen the most explosive growth in Foreign Service publishing.

We all know the Foreign Service is a community of readers, and we see it increasingly as one of writers, too. The pandemic may explain some of the new inspiration to write, to finally get that story down or that unique perspective out. The temporary but long periods of quarantine and stalled travel may have sent many to their personal archives, to the attic or the cloud for the collections of memories from lives of service and adventure. Nineteen of the books are memoirs.

A majority of the books are “independently published,” by which we also mean author-published aka self-published, a trend that keeps growing as it becomes easier and more affordable to do, and as it becomes easier to reach audiences through social media. Self-publishing is potentially more lucrative for authors, as it provides a chance to keep some 50 to 70 percent of royalties as opposed to the 5 to 15 percent that a university or commercial press will offer.

If only authors and publishers could get hold of paper and fix other issues plaguing the publishing industry today. Supply chain woes worldwide have meant major delays in book (and magazine) production in recent months, delays that will likely carry on for the foreseeable future. When you find books in this collection that would make good holiday gifts, buy them right away!

Editorial Calendar 2022

  • JAN-FEB: Subnational Diplomacy
  • MARCH: Health and the Foreign Service
  • APRIL: Life After the Foreign Service; APHIS at 50
  • MAY: Early Soft Power: American Exhibit Guides USSR
  • JUNE: Pandemic Diplomacy
  • JULY-AUG: Foreign Service Transitions
  • SEPTEMBER: Iraq and Afghanistan: Diplomacy After War
  • OCTOBER: Third-Country Kids
  • NOVEMBER: Foreign Service Authors – In Their Own Write
  • DECEMBER: AFSA Awards: Honoring Foreign Service Excellence and Dissent

While celebrating the wealth of FS writing talent, we are also commemorating the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Agency for International Development this month. USAID Administrator Samantha Power graciously responded to a set of questions from us, reflecting on both global and internal agency priorities.

In “USAID at 60: An Enduring Purpose, a Complex Legacy,” author and development expert John Norris reviews the agency’s history from the founding on Nov. 3, 1961, to today. And USAID AFSA Vice President Jason Singer offers thoughts on the anniversary in his extended column in AFSA News.

Following last month’s focus on climate change diplomacy, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) presents a Message from the Hill on “The Climate Change Challenge.”

FSOs Ana Escrogima, Lia Miller and Christina Tilghman speak out with recommendations for “A Paradigm Shift for Diversity.”

In the Feature, Commander Jonathan Ahlstrom, U.S. Navy, lays out how to build “A Partnership-Centered Approach to the Indo-Pacific.” And in this month’s FS Know-How, child behavior specialist and FS family member Karem Ensley gives tips for “Supporting Special Needs Families Abroad.”

The Reflection by retired FSO Robert Service, “Forestalling a Democracy Crisis in Paraguay,” is being published posthumously. His obituary will run in an upcoming FSJ.

While supply chain problems have delayed FSJ production and shipping by a few days these last couple months, we hope your hard copy of the FSJ has arrived in good time. Please remember that we also post the entire edition online by the first of the month at

Please consider writing for the Journal in the new year. You can write on one of the focus topics (see our draft 2022 schedule) or write on any subject of current or enduring interest or concern to the Foreign Service. Write to with inquiries and submissions.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Shawn Dorman is the editor of The Foreign Service Journal.