In Their Own Write

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 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 volumes that have been featured in previous years—and more (see

What follows is our annotated list of volumes written, edited or translated by Foreign Service personnel and their family members in 2014 and 2015. The list 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 aid of Assistant Editor Brittany DeLong, Editorial Intern Shannon Mizzi, Associate Editor Maria C. Livingston and Contributing Editor Steven Alan Honley.

This year’s list contains a solid history section, including our own long-awaited history of AFSA, a policy and issues section with three offerings on climate change, a number of very interesting memoirs and an unusually large selection of fiction, in addition to a potpourri of works for young children, high schoolers, adult language learners, theatergoers, gourmets and leaders.

We also have the pleasure this year of introducing readers to a new bibliography of books by USAID authors, courtesy of retired USAID FSO John Pielemeier. And, as usual, we include a list of books “of related interest” to diplomats and their families that were not written by FS authors.

Our primary purpose in presenting “In Their Own Write” each year 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 along with a short commentary. As has been the case for nearly a decade, a majority of the titles are self-published.

Once again, although many of these books are available elsewhere, we encourage you 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.

If you are in the D.C. area, be sure to mark your calendars for the second annual AFSA Book Market on Nov. 19. Enjoy a cup of tea while you chat with FS authors and browse their offerings from 1 to 4 p.m. at AFSA headquarters.

—Susan Brady Maitra, Managing Editor

History & Biography

Latin American Rebels and the United States, 1806-1822

Gordon S. Brown, McFarland and Company Inc., 2015, $39.95/paperback; $24.99/Kindle, 206 pages.

In Latin American Rebels, Gordon S. Brown immerses us in the social, political and economic world of America during the early 1800s, when it was confronted with a problem: Should the United States support the many separatist revolts occurring in Spanish American colonies at this time, or should it keep the very firm policy of neutrality it had held since the end of the Revolutionary War?

Americans were sharply divided on the issue. Many directly identified with the rebels’ fight for freedom, having participated in their own struggle for independence a few short decades earlier; others pointed to the danger in getting involved in European affairs, particularly during the complex and tumultuous Napoleonic Wars. The conflict brought the idea of “American interests” into sharp focus.

This is a lively study of a unique juncture in American history that is not often addressed by modern historians. Readers will recognize its echoes in today’s foreign policy challenges—uneasy neighbors, contested loyalties, decisions that must be made regarding intervention versus neutrality.

Gordon S. Brown is a retired Foreign Service officer living in Washington, D.C. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Mauritania from 1991 to 1994. Since retiring, he has written six books, including The Norman Conquest of Southern Italy and Sicily, Toussaint’s Clause: The Founding Fathers and the Haitian Revolution, and Incidental Architect: William Thornton and the Cultural Life of Early Washington, D.C., 1794-1828. He is a member of the Foreign Service Journal Editorial Board.


The American Consul: A History of the United States Consular Service, 1776-1924

Charles Stuart Kennedy, New Academia Publishing, 2015, $26/paperback, 311 pages.

In this new and expanded edition of The American Consul, the definitive work on the subject originally published in 1990, Charles Stuart Kennedy traces the beginnings of the U.S. consular service back to the time of American independence. At that time, American consuls were not confined to world capitals and quasi-embassies; they were in a unique position to take a hands-on approach to looking after Americans abroad in exciting port cities.

In covering the period from 1776 to 1924, Kennedy demonstrates how American consuls played significant roles in the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the American Civil War and the Spanish-American War, as well as World War I.

The book also introduces some very interesting characters, since consular appointments were often used as a reward for authors and public intellectuals. Most notably, Nathaniel Hawthorne, James Fenimore Cooper and William Dean Howells served in the American consular service.

This new edition, the 55th volume in the ADST-DACOR Diplomats and Diplomacy Series, brings readers up to the time of the Rogers Act, consular and diplomatic integration and the formation of the professional U.S. Foreign Service.

Kennedy, a retired FSO and Korean War veteran, was a consular officer for many years. He served in Germany, Saudi Arabia, the former Yugoslavia, South Vietnam, Greece, South Korea and Italy. On retiring in 1985, he founded the Foreign Affairs Oral History Program and today serves as its director at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training. He was the 2014 recipient of AFSA’s Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award. (Find his book talk at


A Short History of Evolution: A Theme and Variations

Carl Coon, Humanist Press, 2015, $10.99/paperback; $2.99/Kindle, 64 pages.

In A Short History of Evolution, Ambassador (ret.) Carl Coon tracks several billion years of human and natural history, arguing that there is no need for humans to continue to turn to magic and superstition to explain how we got to where we are.

Instead, Coon demonstrates, everything that has ever happened has occurred within a natural order of change. He discusses the emergence of homo sapiens more than 50,000 years ago, and how natural selection has continued to shape the societies we live in and the civilizations we create. In Coons’ view, these natural biological processes balance war with altruism. He argues that humans cannot survive without both phenomena.

This short, informative reader is set up like a musical composition, with themes and variations weaving together to produce a story in 64 pages that covers the intellectual connection between entropy and evolution, the origin of life on earth, natural selection, our earliest human ancestors, the Neolithic and modern periods, and theories of morality.

The book will serve as a good introduction for those just beginning to ponder the question “How did we get here?” and a summary for those who have already delved into the scientific literature but would like to see it synthesized.

Carl Coon spent his Foreign Service career in the Middle East and South Asia, and was U.S. ambassador to Nepal from 1981 to 1984. His previous books include Culture Wars and the Global Village and One Planet, One People.


Anti-Americanism in Democratizing South Korea

David Straub, Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, 2015, $18.95/paperback, 246 pages.

In 2002, David Straub was an FSO serving in Seoul when massive anti-American protests erupted there. In what was believed to be one of the most pro-American countries in the world, hundreds of thousands of Koreans demonstrated against the United States, tearing American flags, staging cyberattacks and taking one American hostage.

How did it come to this? Straub answers this question with an account of the complicated relationship between the United States and Korea since the American occupation of 1945-1948, detailing multiple incidents that, building upon one another, would prove to be future diplomatic sticking points.

The last straw, it seems, was the “Highway 56” tragedy, a 2002 traffic accident involving two American soldiers that resulted in the deaths of two Korean schoolgirls. When the soldiers were acquitted of any wrongdoing by the United States Forces Korea, outraged Koreans took to the streets.

Straub addresses multiple ways in which popular anti-American sentiment was expressed, discusses whether something similar could occur again and concludes with policy recommendations for increasing mutual understanding between the two nations today.

During a 30-year Foreign Service career, David Straub served as head of the political section in Seoul from 1999 to 2002. He worked on the formation of the Six-Party Talks focused on North Korea’s nuclear program (2002-2004) and was Japan country desk director (2004-2006), co-leading U.S. delegation talks with Japan on realignment and U.S. military bases. He retired in 2006 and is currently associate director of the Korea Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University.


Over There: A Doughboy in France 1918

William S. Shepard, Seth B. Cutler Press, 2014, $2.99/Kindle, 75 pages.

In this e-book, William S. Shepard presents the notebook his father, Robinson Shepard, kept as an American soldier during the First World War. This priceless heirloom has been in his family for years and provides a firsthand account of Robinson’s experience fighting in Europe on the Western Front, where he was stationed on Armistice Day in 1918.

Robinson recorded his feelings on warfare, and described his everyday life in the trenches of France in pencil. When the war was over, he went over his writings in pen, preserving them for future generations. He also added memos, which provide context for his diary entries and elaborate on things he could not explain at the time for security reasons.

The notebook traces the fascinating trajectory of Robinson Shepard’s participation in World War I, including his training at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, his voyage to Britain across the dangerous North Atlantic Ocean and a second journey from Britain to France, his final destination. He was eventually stationed in the American sector of France at Meurthe-et-Moselle, Lorraine.

A career diplomat, William S. Shepard has served in consular and political officer positions in Singapore, Saigon, Budapest and Athens and also as consul general in Bordeaux. He hopes the publication of this notebook will stimulate conversations about the price of freedom, and allow families to share their own stories with one another. He is the author of several other books, including a diplomatic murder mystery series.


Hizmet in Africa: The Activities and Significance of the Gülen Movement

David H. Shinn, TSEHAI Publishers, 2015, $19.95/paperback, 164 pages.

While much has been written about the Hizmet (Service) movement inspired by Turkish imam Fethullah Gülen inside Turkey, this book is the first that details the movement’s activity in Africa. David Shinn analyzes the services in the form of education, business training and humanitarian work provided by Hizmet in almost every African country.

Shinn visited both Africa and Turkey during his research, interviewing active members of this difficult-to-define and sometimes controversial movement. He explains the holistic approach taken by the organization in finding solutions for global problems through education, inclusive and interfaith dialogue and cultural exchange, and describes how Hizmet’s efforts are funded from within Turkey.

Hizmet is one arm of the broader Gülen Movement, which Shinn describes, offering a profile of Fethullah Gülen and the movement’s banking and business practices, humanitarian activities, and media and outreach programs. He also analyzes the effect of Hizmet on Turkish-African relations.

Hizmet in Africa is “an excellent example of the type of studies that are needed to understand the significance of nongovernmental organizations in the contemporary world,” says John Voll, professor emeritus of Islamic history at Georgetown University.

David H. Shinn spent 37 years in the Foreign Service, dealing mostly with African affairs. He served in Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritania, Cameroon and Sudan, and was ambassador to Burkina Faso from 1987 to 1990 and to Ethiopia from 1996 to 1999. He now teaches African affairs at The George Washington University.


Nobility Lost: French and Canadian Martial Cultures, Indians and the End of New France

Christian Ayne Crouch, Cornell University Press, 2014, $35/hardcover; $19.25/Kindle, 264 pages.

Nobility Lost is a unique history of the Seven Years’ War in North America and the collision of French, Indian and Canadian cultures of war and diplomacy it occasioned.

Professor Christian Ayne Crouch details how these cultural misunderstandings ultimately affected the course of North American colonial history and contributed to the deterioration of the French public’s satisfaction with the “old regime.”

As the author explains, the French domestic army arrived late to the conflict, bringing with them ritualized performance of honor codes that clashed directly with the objectives of the French colonial forces, present from the war’s outset, who were much more concerned with maintaining colonial territory and trading links than wartime formalities.

These new colonial methods presented a deep challenge, as Crouch puts it, to European martial cultures and to cultures of masculinity, race and colonialism. In the end, the Seven Years’ War transformed all of the communities involved in both North America and Europe. Conflict between metropolitan and colonial French elites meant questioning the wisdom of French imperial ambitions.

Christian Ayne Crouch, the daughter of retired Senior FSO Miller Crouch, is assistant professor of historical studies at Bard College. Nobility Lost won the French Colonial History Society’s 2015 Mary Alice and Philip Boucher Book Prize, which recognizes exceptional books dealing with the French colonial experience between 1500 and 1815.


The Mind of the African Strongman: Conversations with Dictators, Statesmen and Father Figures

Herman J. Cohen, New Academia Publishing/VELLUM Books, 2015, $34/hardcover; $24/paperback, 218 pages.

Ambassador and former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman J. Cohen gives readers a unique window into the thoughts, decisions and personalities of the “first generation” of post-colonial African heads of state in The Mind of the African Strongman, the 57th volume in the ADST-DACOR Diplomats and Diplomacy Series.

Cohen describes public meetings and private conversations with leaders such as Albert-Bernard Bongo of Gabon; Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya; Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia; Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe; Joseph Mobutu of Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo); Ibrahim Babangida of Nigeria; Muammar Gaddafi of Libya; Mohamed Siad Barre of Somalia; Charles Taylor of Liberia; and Nelson Mandela of South Africa.

Providing historical background on each leader and context on what was occurring in each country during the time he engaged its leadership, the author plumbs the leaders’ views for insight into why African countries have lagged behind other emerging nations, despite billions of dollars in international assistance and immense natural resource reserves, and discusses how the “third generation” of African leaders can overcome the mistakes of their predecessors.

During a 39-year Foreign Service career, Herman J. Cohen served in five different African capitals and as U.S. ambassador to Senegal from 1977 to 1980. He was assistant secretary of State for African affairs under George H.W. Bush and special assistant for African affairs under Ronald Reagan. He has been president of Cohen and Woods, a consulting firm specializing in assistance to American corporations doing business in Africa, since 2004.


Greek Urban Warriors: Resistance & Terrorism, 1967-2014

John Brady Kiesling, Lycabettus Press, 2015, €30, 413 pages.

In the first scholarly work on this topic, former FSO John Brady Kiesling presents a history of political violence in Greece, with a particular focus on the political terrorist group 17 November, or 17N, active from the 1970s to the early 21st century.

The Greek state struggled for legitimacy for most of the 20th century. After seven years of military dictatorship, civilian rule returned in 1974. But many Greeks believed the new government was greedy, corrupt and controlled financially by foreign actors. This widespread sentiment allowed 17N to operate with impunity for more than two decades, committing over 30 political murders and engaging in kidnapping and the use of improvised explosive devices. In 2003, a number of 17N members were finally prosecuted.

Living in Athens, Kiesling followed these trials closely and began to write his book based on their records. Such groups did more harm than good, he argues; the climate of fear their actions created allowed the government, with public support, to enact severe restrictions on civil liberties, just as the military government had done before them.

John Brady Kiesling served in the Foreign Service from 1983 until his resignation in 2003 in protest over U.S. policy in Iraq. He was posted to Tel Aviv, Casablanca and Yerevan, and served as chief of the political section in Athens from 2000 to 2003. He lives in Athens and writes on history, archaeology, ancient religion and politics.


The Voice of the Foreign Service: A History of the American Foreign Service Association

Harry W. Kopp, Foreign Service Books, 2015, $30/paperback; $14.99/Kindle, 358 pages.

The U.S. Foreign Service and the American Foreign Service Association were born together in 1924. In this first-ever book about the association’s more than 90-year history, author and former diplomat Harry Kopp chronicles the evolution of the Foreign Service and the events that shaped AFSA into what it is today—the professional association and labor union of the United States Foreign Service.

Published by the books division of AFSA, Foreign Service Books, The Voice of the Foreign Service takes readers through the early history of diplomacy, from Benjamin Franklin to the Rogers Act of 1924 and the Foreign Service Acts of 1946 and 1980, following the evolution of the Foreign Service and the association through the 20th century and into the 21st.

Harry W. Kopp was a member of the Foreign Service from 1967 to 1985, and served as deputy assistant secretary of State for international trade policy in the Carter and Reagan administrations. He is the author of Commercial Diplomacy and the National Interest (American Academy of Diplomacy, 2004) and, with the late Tony Gillespie, Career Diplomacy: Life and Work in the U.S. Foreign Service (Georgetown University Press, 2008 and 2011). His short story “Trotsky in the Bronx” won the 2012 Goldenberg Fiction Award.


Policy and Issues

Climate, Weather and Ideology: Climate Change Denial

William R. McPherson, CreateSpace, 2015, $14.99/paperback; $9.99/Kindle, 271 pages.

Today we are confronted with the conflict between scientists and climate change deniers on an almost daily basis. As William McPherson argues in his new book, “denial ideologues” have successfully created a pseudo-science now pervasive in the United States, in which it is argued that “extreme weather is not related to climate change,” and “all climate change is natural.”

In this volume, McPherson presents the scientific consensus linking extreme weather to climate change, debunking several climate change denial tactics along the way.

Several of the climate change-induced extreme weather phenomena of recent years—e.g., Hurricane Sandy, droughts in the American West and Midwest, Typhoon Haiyan—raise issues that we will be forced to address in the near future—namely, poverty, food scarcity, climate refugees—McPherson argues. He makes some striking points: For instance, denial ideologues will argue that poverty and disease are more important to address in the short term, but there can be no solutions to poverty when climate change overwhelms international economic development.

McPherson ends on a hopeful note, offering practical recommendations to scientists looking to combat denial, particularly among politicians.

William R. McPherson spent 21 years in the Foreign Service, serving in Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Switzerland, among other locations. In retirement he has worked on international environmental issues, and is an activist working with the Sierra Club on climate change and coal exports.


Theology and the Disciplines of the Foreign Service: The World’s Potential to Contribute to the Church

Theodore L. Lewis, Wipf & Stock, 2015, $22/paperback; $9.99/Kindle, 188 pages.

Part memoir and part theological discussion, Theology and the Disciplines of the Foreign Service explores the ways in which Theodore L. Lewis’s 29-year FS career and priestly calling enhanced, informed and enriched each other.

Early in his career, Lewis “recognized the affinity between the approach of biblical criticism and the critical approach I had developed in the Foreign Service.” His book describes why these links are important and how understanding them can help clarify religion’s role for individuals living in modern communities.

Lewis points to events where his faith intertwined with his postings abroad, such as Vietnam in the early 1960s when his theological studies helped him cope with the intense work and economic reporting demands, and the Congo where he visited the Diocese of Boga and encountered the permeating presence of the late priest and evangelist, Apolo Kivebulaya.

In October, the book was launched in Britain at Oxford University. (For a detailed review, see the April FSJ.)

Theodore L. Lewis is a retired Foreign Service officer and Anglican priest. His postings included Vietnam, Pakistan, Korea and the Congo. Following retirement in the mid-1980s, he worked on his theological writings at Cambridge and Oxford. He is author of To Restore the Church: Radical Redemption History to Now (1996).


Expeditionary Diplomacy in Action: Supporting the Casamance Peace Initiative

James R. Bullington and Tuy-Cam Bullington, CreateSpace, 2015, $9.95/paperback; $3.99/Kindle, 118 pages.

While Senegal is generally a stable and democratic country, a secessionist movement active since 1982 in its southern part, the Casamance, has caused much human and economic suffering. So in 2012, President Macky Sall launched a peace initiative to bring the conflict to an end.

Expeditionary Diplomacy in Action is James and Tuy-Cam Bullington’s account of their role in the program—an example of “expeditionary diplomacy,” they argue—designed to help the Senegalese government succeed.

The Bullingtons came out of retirement and moved to Senegal when the State Department asked Jim to be Casamance adviser at Embassy Dakar. In the book, they recount their experiences meeting with Senegalese officials, community leaders, rebel groups and refugees, and facilitating economic and humanitarian aid for the region.

A de facto ceasefire achieved there in 2014 has held, and rebel groups and the government continue to negotiate toward an end to the conflict.

James R. Bullington, an FSO for 27 years, served in Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, Chad and Benin. He was also dean of the State Department Senior Seminar and served as ambassador to Burundi from 1983 to 1986.

Tuy-Cam Bullington was born in Hue, Vietnam, and met Jim there in 1965, while serving as a Foreign Service National employee at the U.S. consulate. Now retired for the second time, the Bullingtons live in Williamsburg, Virginia.


Climate Change and Conflict Prevention

J. Andrew Plowman, National Intelligence Press, 2015, $14/paperback, 170 pages.

In this concise volume, J. Andrew Plowman assesses how climate changes might lead to violent conflicts and how such conflicts might be prevented or mitigated. The study was undertaken during a 2009-2010 research fellowship at the National Intelligence University (then the Center for Strategic Intelligence).

Plowman uses the conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan as a case study for the conditions under which the effects of climate changes might propel future conflicts. Based on the Darfur case and on the environmental security literature, he develops a basic model for climate change-related conflicts.

Climate change is likely to increase the potential for intrastate and communal conflicts as populations struggle to adjust to changes in the environmental systems that support their livelihoods, Plowman argues.

What should we be focusing on in the realm of preventive diplomacy? Plowman recommends structural conflict prevention by strengthening government institutions and building adaptability to climate change, particularly in fragile and failed states, which are the most vulnerable.

Published by the National Intelligence Press, Plowman’s book has been peer-reviewed by senior government officials and outside experts, and would be valuable to anyone interested in the future of climate change-driven conflict. It is also available online at

FSO J. Andrew Plowman has served in Peru, Panama, Kazakhstan and Brazil, as well as in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and the former Bureau of Economics, Energy and Business Affairs in Washington, D.C.


Living with Climate Change: How Communities Are Surviving and Thriving in a Changing Climate

Damon P. Coppola, Jane A. Bullock, George D. Haddow and Kim S. Haddow, Auerbach Publications, 2015, $59.95/paperback, 312 pages.

Communities across the United States are already experiencing some of the consequences of a changing climate: rapid rise in sea levels, multi-state wildfires, heat waves and enduring drought. In Living with Climate Change, the authors present the steps cities are taking to protect lives and businesses and to reduce their vulnerability.

The authors bring decades of combined experience in the successful design and implementation of community-based risk reduction, adaptation and resilience programs. The result is practical advice on how to plan for and live with a climate that is changing faster and more erratically then predicted.

Case studies are used to illustrate smart, effective policies, and their benefits for the economy, the environment and public health are defined. The authors also examine obstacles to local, state and national action on climate change.

Damon P. Coppola—whose wife, Mary-Gardner Coppola, is a career FSO—is an emergency management systems engineer who has written several books on emergency management and preparedness. He is a partner at Bullock and Haddow LLC. Jane A. Bullock, a former adjunct professor at the Institute for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management at The George Washington University, is a principal in Bullock and Haddow LLC. George D. Haddow, a principal in Bullock and Haddow LLC, serves on the adjunct faculty for security studies and disaster resilience leadership at Tulane University. Kim S. Haddow specializes in strategic communications for nonprofits.



Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy

Christopher R. Hill, Simon & Schuster, 2014, $30/hardcover; $14.99/Kindle; $21.95/audiobook, 448 pages.

From his service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon during the 1970s through four tours as a U.S. ambassador, retired FSO Christopher R. Hill faced countless personal and professional challenges all over the world.

Hill joined the Foreign Service in 1977 and, over the course of his career, was entrusted with increasingly prominent roles in handling momentous negotiations, from the 1995 Dayton Accords to the Six-Party talks with North Korea a decade later.

This memoir gives readers a vivid sense not just of what it’s like to live and work in dangerous hotspots, but of how much harder it is to conduct diplomacy when key policymakers in your own government oppose the very concept of negotiations. Ambassador Hill describes certain interactions with Vice President Dick Cheney and various U.S. senators as though they were even more frustrating than his attempts to engage Slobodan Milosevic and other foreign adversaries.

Reviewing this book in the May FSJ, Steve Honley observed: “Four-time Ambassador Christopher R. Hill’s career certainly gave him plenty of material for a self-congratulatory memoir. Happily, Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy not only adroitly avoids that trap, but stands as an exemplar of its genre.” (Find his book talk at

Christopher R. Hill retired from the Foreign Service in 2010 with the rank of Career Minister. He is dean of the Joseph Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He also serves on the board of International Relief and Development Inc. and is an adviser with the Albright Stonebridge Group.


Cold War Diplomat: Inside U.S. Diplomacy

George A. Glass, CWD, 2015, $41/hardcover, 230 pages.

In this memoir of his 31-year Foreign Service career, George Glass recounts adventures and conflicts, largely focused on the Cold War and anti-Americanism in West Berlin. “As my career developed, each tour appeared to me as a chapter of a book that gained pages with each day,” he writes. Glass describes his early start as a political officer in Germany in 1981 at the epicenter of the East-West conflict. A marriage and transfer later, he was in Russia dealing with Moscow dissidents. Here he finds himself under arrest by the KGB for anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda before eventually being released.

By mid-1985, he has left for his first Washington assignment at the Soviet desk before taking on new territory as a “Soviet watcher” at the embassy in Japan. After the 1989 collapse of the Berlin Wall, he is quickly called back to East Berlin to sort through German reunification. He recalls his first encounters with the new Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and plunging into the Dayton Peace Accords following the bombing of Bosnian Serbs.

Glass reflects on the momentous events he lived and worked through along with commentary on the conflicts between family and career.

George A. Glass retired in 2011 and relocated with his wife, Karin, to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, he was a researcher at the Atlantic Institute in Paris and a lecturer at the Hamburg Institute for International Politics and Economics.


Economics and Diplomacy: A Life in the Foreign Service of the United States

Deane R. Hinton, New Academia Publishing/VELLUM Books, 2015, $28/paperback, 458 pages.

Part of the ADST-DACOR Memoirs and Occasional Papers Series, Deane Hinton’s memoir describes his remarkable career and presents a firsthand account of the development of U.S. strategic economic policy and the new institutions that became the framework for trade, aid, economic growth and monetary policy.

Hinton recounts his youth and military service in Italy in World War II before his segue into the Foreign Service starting with political, commercial and consular positions. He describes some of his most memorable—both positive and negative—moments in subsequent assignments. In Damascus, during the first Palestine War, he survived Israeli bombs and typhoid fever from countless refugees and vainly opposed a CIA-backed coup. In Pakistan, President Zia ul-Haq lied to Hinton about his plans for nuclear weapons, which Zia balanced by lying to the Soviets.

This book is a serious record of events and analysis by a skilled policymaker—“an instruction about life in the Foreign Service, at once personal and professional,” in the words of retired FSO David Beall.

Deane R. Hinton, a retired FSO with the rank of Career Ambassador, joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1946. During a 48-year career, he was posted to Europe, the Near East, Africa, South Asia, Latin America and Washington, D.C. After being expelled as ambassador to Zaire by Mobutu Sese Seko, he served as ambassador to the European Communities, El Salvador, Pakistan, Costa Rica and Panama.


Like the Moon and the Sun: Indonesia in the Words of an American Diplomat

Stanley Harsha, Kompas Book Publisher, 2015, $11.99/paperback, 272 pages.

Retired diplomat Stanley Harsha fell in love with Indonesia during his first overseas assignment there in 1986. He embraced the country completely, marrying an Indonesian, Henny, and converting to Islam as a result. With subsequent postings in Indonesia, which spanned 12 of the 28 years of his Foreign Service career, Harsha offers a unique take on the complex issues in Indonesia through the eyes of an American.

In Like the Moon and the Sun, Harsha tells of his life between two nations. He offers intimate perspectives on Indonesia’s rich multicultural society and customs and describes the country’s peaceful transition from a dictatorship to the world’s third largest democracy.

He also focuses on human rights accountability in both countries, from past killings and kidnappings of civilians by Indonesian security forces to the torture and killing of terrorist suspects by U.S. security forces.

“This book should be read by anyone who is interested in learning about Indonesian relations with America,” states respected human rights attorney Adnan Buyung Nasution.

Adds prominent Indonesian intellectual Azyumardi Azra, in his foreword: “I am certain that readers of this work, Americans, Indonesians and people from other countries will gain a better understanding of Indonesian multiculturalism and the multireligious Indonesian community.”

Stanley Harsha served in Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Taiwan, Namibia and Washington, D.C. Since retirement in 2013, he splits his time between homes in Colorado and Jakarta and dedicates himself to writing and building bilateral education ties.


With the Dragon’s Children (Second Edition)

David J. Garms, FriesenPress, 2015, $31.99/hardcover; $17.99/paperback; $2.99/Kindle, 208 pages.

David Garms gives a fascinating account of his 1967-1968 USAID assignment as a Vietcong amnesty adviser in the Go Cong province in Vietnam’s delta region. Based on extensive notes, unclassified documents, books and interviews carried out over a three-year period in Vietnam, With the Dragon’s Children is the only book written about the U.S.-supported amnesty program for the Vietcong.

In this second edition, Garms draws heavily on recently declassified material. His “instructive tales introduce you to some fascinating characters and to a gifted people most Americans never saw, let alone understood,” says Bruce Kinsey, a former FSO and author of Good Guys: The Men Who Tried to Pacify Vietnam.

With many references to Vietnam’s vibrant culture and history, Garms focuses on 1,000 former Vietcong who returned to the Government of the Republic of Vietnam. He tells their interesting story, as well as that of the staff managing the program.

The book offers a reliable retrospective on the war, as Garms reports on Vietnamese attitudes, aspirations and reactions to the conflict. He also describes his determination to learn the language and absorb its many subtleties while he grows closer to the country’s life and people.

David J. Garms served in the Peace Corps for two years in India with an agricultural program before Foreign Service postings with USAID in Bangladesh, the Philippines, Malawi, Sri Lanka and Italy. He and his wife currently reside in Fairfax, Virginia.


Ambassador to a Small World: Letters from Chad

Christopher E. Goldthwait, New Academia Publishing/VELLUM Books, 2015, $40/hardcover; $28/paperback, 440 pages.

The longest-serving U.S. ambassador to Chad, Christopher E. Goldthwait presents a highly personal portrait of the country from his expert vantage point. An ADST-DACOR Memoirs and Occasional Papers book, Ambassador to a Small World originated from a series of 45 letters Amb. Goldthwait sent to close friends while serving in Chad from 1999 to 2004.

The chapters, ordered thematically and interspersed with his written letters, showcase Goldtwait’s experiences as an ambassador in a country with a conflict-ridden history. He describes 25,000 miles of travel and significant events in nearly every corner of Chad. A 20-page photo insert illustrates some of his official duties and scenes from different parts of the country.

Part travelogue, part analysis, the book offers perceptive reflections on the country and its people in addition to touching on U.S. foreign policy, foreign aid and contrasts between Chad and the United States.

Christopher E. Goldthwait served in the Foreign Agricultural Service, with tours in Germany and Nigeria before his appointment to Chad. Since late 2004, he has had his own consulting business focusing on agricultural policy and international agriculture. He is principal author of Modernizing America’s Food and Farm Policy: Vision for a New Direction (The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, 2006) and a novel, Salvation Is a Homecoming (America Start Books, 2001).


Joy, Love, and Loss in Late Life: An Epistolary History of How Early Life Experiences, Long Marriages, and Divorces Shaped a Late-in-Life Relationship

James Jordan, CreateSpace, 2015, $14.50/paperback; $8/Kindle, 176 pages.

Jimmy Jordan and Aliza Matthews met in their late 70s, when he moved into her apartment building. Both were single and had gone through difficult divorces. Joy, Love, and Loss in Late Life presents a real-life time chronicle of the pair’s relationship.

Told through the printed record of more than five years of email exchanges and countless hours spent together, Jordan weaves a unique social history that covers his and Aliza’s life trajectories from childhood memories through career and family choices, all the way up to the present.

He also touches on how certain Foreign Service postings can challenge even the strongest marriages. It is Jordan’s hope that this book will help anyone who has served overseas, whether in the Foreign Service or not, gain a better understanding of his or her own life paths and marriages.

The book was written, in Jordan’s words, “to make a significant contribution to our understanding of how strong and meaningful social relations can develop at any stage in one’s life, including those enjoyed well into late age.”

James Jordan is the nom de plume of a retired USAID FSO and writer. In deference to his own children and his late-in-life love, Aliza, James scrubbed identifying information from those mentioned in the book.


Marry Me Stop

Regina Landor, CreateSpace, 2015, $9.99/paperback; $3.99/Kindle, 204 pages.

Caring for an ailing parent dealing with dementia is an incredibly difficult task—now imagine moving that parent to a new country on the other side of the world while dealing with these issues. That’s exactly what Regina Landor did when her 78-year-old mother’s health declined and she experienced a series of unpleasant stints in retirement homes.

In Marry Me Stop, Landor honors the life of her mother, Miriam, with a two-part biography. The first part tells of Miriam’s difficult Depression-era childhood and travels abroad, as she sailed across the ocean on her own and worked in Europe before marrying and raising three children in the United States. The second part chronicles Miriam’s slide into dementia and relocation with her family to Bangladesh—a land that honors the elderly.

Landor describes the raw realities of caring for someone with mental illness, capturing the challenges and frustrations as well as the humor and gratitude that her family has felt for the opportunity to be present with Miriam during this life-altering time.

Regina Landor, the wife of a USAID FSO, writes a travel blog and is author of Forever Traveling Home (CreateSpace, 2013). She currently lives in Dhaka with her husband, two sons and 81-year-old mother, and is co-founder of Thrive, a volunteer organization that provides healthy lunches to poor children in Dhaka.


The Long White Cloud: The Year in New Zealand That Changed Our Family Forever

Kristen Faber, CreateSpace, 2015, $12.99/paperback; $4.99/Kindle, 156 pages.

In 2008, Kristen Faber and her husband Chad departed the United States with their three children, 10 suitcases, five carry-on bags and one bike box to spend a year in New Zealand. The couple had always wanted to live overseas, so Chad took locum tenens—where physicians fill in for other physicians on a temporary basis—and the family took off on an adventure.

The family’s arrival to their new home in Wairoa seemed ominous initially: they had no instructions to get to the house, no cell phone or map and one child had already gotten sick all over the side of the car. Fortunately, tides turned and the next year was spent exploring and falling in love with the country.

Faber takes readers on the family’s journey while interspersing tidbits of New Zealand history, suggestions on places to visit in various cities and observations of the country’s culture. Faber recounts her daughter’s first traditional Maori kapa haka dance performance and the family’s experience adapting to a society that practices more conscious living habits, such as composting.

Kristen Faber is the spouse of Foreign Service medical officer and RMO Chad Faber. Her first move was to Togo, when her children were 4 years, 2 years and 4 months old. Faber previously volunteered with the nonprofit organization Women at Risk, to which 50 percent of the profits from each purchase of The Long White Cloud will be donated.


My Way: A South Texas Rancher in the Diplomatic Service of the United States

Ernesto Uribe, Xlibris, 2015, $29.99/hardcover; $19.99/paperback; $3.99/Kindle, 292 pages.

Ernesto Uribe entered the Foreign Service by pure luck. Born into a ranching family, he had every intention of continuing the business. On a whim, he applied to and got into Texas A&M College, where he became a track star. After being told he was too young to join USAID as an overseas agriculture specialist, he took the Foreign Service exam instead.

He heard little until he was contacted about joining a new program with USIA as a student affairs grantee where he would conduct youth outreach in Guayaquil, Ecuador—his first posting. In Uribe’s words, he found his way into the Foreign Service world “only because I was at the right place at the right time and was the right age to fill a need.”

From these humble beginnings, he proceeded to overseas assignments where he experienced eight coups d’etat and some bloody takeovers. He describes run-ins with bosses and problems with the bureaucracy. He applied his journalism skills in his role as counselor for public affairs in several countries and advocated for increased hiring of Hispanics. As the title of the book implies, during every stage of his career Uribe did things his way, and without shying away from confrontation.

Ernesto Uribe joined USIA in 1962 and spent a 33-year career serving tours in seven Latin American countries as well as Washington. He retired as a minister counselor in the Senior Foreign Service in 2005. He is the author of The Unforgiving (2011), Rumors of a Coup (2009) and Tlalcoyote (2001).


Tales from Tripoli: An American Family’s Odyssey at a Libyan Boys’ School

Kirsten I. Russell, CreateSpace, 2015, $11/paperback; $0.99/Kindle, 287 pages.

In December 1951, Ray Eugene Russell, his wife, mother-in-law and three children, all under the age of 7, began their journey to Tripoli. A newly minted FSO, Ray was embarking on an assignment with a new U.S. Foreign Service program as director of the Vocational Agriculture Training Center, a Libyan boys’ school.

His daughter, Kirsten Russell, spent most of her childhood at VATC, and in Tales from Tripoli she describes the extraordinary experience of growing up American in a foreign land while coping with a troubled home life. Through family letters, Russell uncovers the notable work her father did at the school, what it meant to the students, what it cost her family and how her family bonds survived.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, Libya was one of the poorest countries in the world seeking development assistance. Russell chronicles her childhood impressions in absorbing detail—of Americans and Libyans, as well as the hopes and disappointments of her hard-working, idealistic father. Today, the VATC has become Libya’s foremost educational institution, the University of Libya.

Kirsten I. Russell has worked in the publishing field in New York City and Florida. She resides in central Florida and has served as a freelance copy editor for the University Press of Florida. She received the 2012 Marinus Latour Outstanding Volunteer Award for her services to the Florida Historical Society as a copy editor for FHS Press books.


The Magic of Dreams: An American Diplomat’s Journey

Eleanor Lopes Akahloun, Xlibris, 2014, $29.99/hardcover; $19.99/paperback; $3.99/Kindle, 362 pages.

In The Magic of Dreams, Eleanor Lopes Akahloun shares her inspiring personal journey from humble beginnings in a tight-knit Cape Verdean community in Massachusetts to a career as an American diplomat that took her across all seven continents.

Writing in a question-and-answer format, Akahloun describes leaving her small hometown to pursue her passion. Readers follow her colorful adventures and progression through the Foreign Service, including what it was like breaking the mold at the Department of State before the changes of 1972 brought more equal opportunities for women. She also comments on the political and economic situations and U.S. foreign policy goals in each of the countries to which she was posted.

In addition to chronicling her own story, Akahloun documents the trials, tribulations and accomplishments of Cape Verdeans—an ethnic and racial minority of Portuguese African origin. Throughout, Akahloun intersperses lessons learned and the affirmation that dreams are magical, even though chasing them can sometimes be extremely challenging. She proves that resolve, fortitude and persistence can propel one to rise above and do incredible things.

Eleanor Lopes Akahloun is a retired FSO with 43 years of service. She has visited more than 50 countries, with postings in the Philippines, Morocco, Kenya, Tunisia, Canada, Uruguay, China, Venezuela and Washington, D.C. She resides outside of Washington, D.C., and actively writes, travels, practices yoga and engages in volunteer work.


My Life and Thoughts: The Formative Years

Raymond Malley, Xlibris, 2014, $29.99/hardcover; $19.99/paperback; $3.99/Kindle, 188 pages.

The first in a series, Raymond Malley’s memoir begins with the years leading up to his distinguished career as a U.S. diplomat with USAID.

The first section of the book, “My Family Background,” contains Malley’s discovery of his family history and the travels of his ancestors from 16th-century France to the United States. He describes the backgrounds of his father and mother, uncovering lineage linking him to pioneers Francois Mallet and Andre Devautour.

In “Growing Up,” Malley details his struggles to achieve his dreams of higher education and pursuit of an international life of serious purpose and service. Readers follow him from birth through primary school and his first job, delivering and selling newspapers.

Finally, in “Higher Education and Military,” Malley begins his time at Boston University and the ROTC program. Seeking to expand his horizons, he attended graduate school at the Institute of Higher International Studies in Switzerland under the GI Bill and then the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. All these things paved the way for his eventual career in the Foreign Service.

Raymond Malley is a former FSO who 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. He is the author of My Global Life: A Conversation with Raymond Malley, a volume in the ADST Oral History Series.



Ghost Image: A Sophie Medina Mystery

Ellen Crosby, Scribner, 2015, $25/hardcover; $12.99/Kindle; $20.95/audiobook, 320 pages.

The second installment in the Sophie Medina Mystery series, Ghost Image follows photojournalist Sophie as she races to find an international treasure before a murderer finds her. When her friend Kevin—a friar and controversial environmentalist—is mysteriously found dead in a Washington, D.C., monastery garden, Sophie embarks on a search for the killer.

After learning that Kevin was being stalked for uncovering a groundbreaking, 200-year-old botanic discovery, Sophie leaps into an international treasure hunt following a trail that begins in the U.S. Capitol and eventually leads to London and the English countryside. As her suspect list grows to include politicians, diplomats, European royalty and botanical experts, Sophie must also avoid being targeted by Kevin’s killer.

“Ellen Crosby leads us on a deadly chase, showcasing powerful and corrupt personalities against a landscape where nothing is as it seems. A page-turner to the last, Ghost Image is a compelling read that kept me guessing late into the night,” says award-winning author G.M. Malliet of Crosby’s newest thriller.

Ellen Crosby, the wife of FSO André de Nesnera of the Voice of America, began writing mysteries under her maiden name when her husband was posted to Geneva. She has written six books in the Virginia wine country mystery series, as well as Moscow Nights, a standalone based loosely on her time as Moscow correspondent for ABC Radio News in the late 1980s. Crosby has worked as a freelance reporter for The Washington Post and as an economist at the U.S. Senate.


No Circuses

James F. O’Callaghan, Tacchino Press, 2015, $13.95/paperback; $8/Kindle, 356 pages.

In No Circuses, readers are introduced to Max Lacey, an American Foreign Service officer deployed to a fictional South American country, the Republic of Engañada. As director of the Engañada-American Cultural Center, Max is thrown into a world of dysfunction—a decaying building, an unhelpful embassy supervisor and internal plots against the nearly bankrupt center are a few of the obstacles he faces.

O’Callaghan weaves adventure, romance, humor and a critique of bureaucracy through this drama, mixing in elements of diplomatic life. As a corrupt government and convoluted politics present new dilemmas and dangers, Max finds himself developing allegiances with the Engañadan people. When civil war eventually looms, Max’s loyalties are tested—will he choose what’s best for America or for Engañada?

Retired FSO James F. O’Callaghan served in Latin America, Italy, Africa and Washington, D.C. He has published various short stories, articles and poems in The Foreign Service Journal, New Oxford Review and Homiletic & Pastoral Review. He and his wife, Giovanna, live in Maple Valley, Washington.


Secrets of State

Matthew Palmer, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015, $27.95/hardcover; $16/paperback; $13.99/Kindle; $26.95/audiobook, 432 pages.

Career diplomat Matthew Palmer offers his second international thriller with Secrets of State, the story of how one former FSO uncovers a corporate plot to upend the political balance between India and Pakistan.

After being bypassed for promotion, Sam Trainor trades his Foreign Service career for a position in the private sector with Argus Security. What should have been a cushier, higher-paying job turns out to be something else entirely when he stumbles onto information pointing to a deliberate scheme to spark nuclear war in order to encourage profits.

Sam is shocked to discover that one of the major players involved is his lover, Vanalika Chandra, a political counselor at the Indian embassy in Washington. Sam must get to the bottom of everything in time to prevent the world from changing forever.

In an interview with Palmer, The Huffington Post proclaims Secrets of State “a gut-churning international thriller whose all-too-real plotline makes one contemplate the dangers of the world in which we live.”

Matthew Palmer is a 20-year veteran of the Foreign Service, currently serving as director for multilateral affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. While on the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff, Palmer helped design and implement the Kimberly Process for certifying African diamonds as “conflict-free.” This experience served as the foundation for his first book, The American Mission (see the November 2014 FSJ for a review).


Knight of Jerusalem

Helena P. Schrader, Wheatmark, 2014, $15.95/paperback; $4.99/Kindle, 316 pages.

The first volume in a trilogy of biographical novels about crusader Balian d’Ibelin, Knight of Jerusalem follows Balian’s life before he negotiated the surrender of Jerusalem against Saladin in 1187. Schrader chronicles Balian’s rise from obscure, landless knight to trusted companion of King Baldwin IV, as well as his scandalous and advantageous marriage to the dowager Queen of Jerusalem, Maria Comnena.

The book opens in 1171 in Ibelin as Balian’s older brother, Hugh, dies. Balian travels to the court of Jerusalem and becomes a riding tutor to the future king. In time, he is appointed the prestigious, but dangerous, title of Constable of Ascalon. Schrader follows Balian’s meteoric rise, detailing his martial exploits as a hero of the Battle of Montgisard in 1177 and his diplomatic successes integrating into the royal family.

As Schrader explains, her objective for the series is “to tell Balian’s story and to describe the fateful historical events surrounding the collapse of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem in the last quarter of the twelfth century, of which Balian was a part.”

Knight of Jerusalem was a finalist for the 2014 Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction and a Book Readers Appreciation Group Medallion Honoree.

Helena P. Schrader is a career FSO currently serving in Addis Ababa. Her previous assignments include Oslo, Lagos and Leipzig. She earned her Ph.D. in history from the University of Hamburg and has published numerous works of history and historical fiction. Her novel St. Louis’ Knight won the 2014 Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction set in the High Middle Ages.


Defender of Jerusalem

Helena P. Schrader, Wheatmark, 2015, $8.99/Kindle, 521 pages.

The second book in Helena P. Schrader’s biographical novel series picks up with crusader Balian d’Ibelin and describes the fateful decade leading up to the fall of Jerusalem to Saladin in 1187, including the Battle of Hattin.

While the dying King Baldwin IV struggles to defend his kingdom from external threats, succession may tear the kingdom apart from the inside. Now the Baron of Ibelin, Balian is married to dowager Queen Maria Comnena and is relied upon to help keep the Holy Land safe.

Throughout, Schrader immerses the reader in action-packed scenes and introduces a cast of characters that bring the Crusades to life. She details not only the events taking place, such as construction of a protective fort on the Upper Jordan, but also the people and their emotions during a turbulent era.

The final book in the Balian d’Ibelin series is set to be released in 2016.


Africa’s Heart: The Journey Ends in Kansas

Mark Wentling, Peace Corps Writers, 2015, $29/paperback; $8.99/Kindle, 534 pages.

The final volume in Mark Wentling’s trilogy, Africa’s Heart introduces aspiring journalist Robin Fletcher, who has come upon a book describing the mysterious disappearance of a man known only as J.B. from a town in Kansas. Intrigued, Robin sets off on an investigation with his cohort, Molly, which leads the pair to the fictional African country of Kotoku.

Here, they meet Letivi, a young half-caste village chief with an important connection to the elusive J.B., and find an Africa they weren’t expecting—one filled with political corruption, poverty and despair. Letivi agonizes over the possibility of growth in his country and is in the midst of developing a cocoa processing plant when he accompanies Robin and Molly back to America. From here, cultures clash and calamitous events are set in motion that will forever change Letivi and his small village.

As a Kirkus review notes: “Logistical issues affecting rural Africa—sustainable farming, education, the evolving role of the village, etc.—are raised in considerable detail, and the activist’s call to awareness is ever present at the periphery.”

Mark Wentling is a retired Senior FSO with USAID who began his international career with the Peace Corps in 1970. He has traveled to all 54 African countries. After working in every corner of the continent for nearly 45 years, he recently settled with his family in Lubbock, Texas. Wentling was born and raised in Kansas, but says he was “made” in Africa.


Old Gorge Road: A Kentbury Mystery

Cheryl Nugent, iUniverse, 2014, $27.95/hardcover; $17.95/paperback; $3.99/Kindle, 274 pages.

Murder reigns again in Kentbury—the small, fictional New Jersey town that serves as the setting for Old Gorge Road, the second book in Cheryl Nugent’s mystery series. In her first book, The Light from Maggie’s View, two young sleuths get entangled in a serial killer’s grasp during the summer of 1958. Now set in 1951, the storyline starts as the befuddled police department investigates the mysterious and violent death of resident Gaffer White.

Clues from the past along with a second murder of local newspaper reporter Etta Marx only further complicate things. Desperate for answers, Chief of Police Bull Campbell and Deputy Terry Kramer enlist renowned Princeton psychiatrist Oliver Appleton to help. Everyone must work together to trap the killer who just may be lurking in plain sight.

Nugent draws readers into the suspense with a cast of eccentric characters and scenic landmarks. Return readers will enjoy revisiting Kentbury’s bucolic, small-town charm. A third book in the series, Brookside Farm, is currently underway.

Cheryl Nugent has lived in Burma, Thailand, China, Australia, Paraguay and the island country of Palau, accompanying her husband during his diplomatic career. She currently lives in South Carolina and is the author of Amy Knows Best (Holladay House Publishing, 2014) and The Light from Maggie’s View (iUniverse, 2012), a manuscript finalist for the 2008 Rupert Hughes Award for Fiction.


Undertow: A Novella and Six Stories

Patricia Lee Sharpe, CreateSpace, 2014, $7.95/paperback, 184 pages.

Patricia Lee Sharpe’s experiences as a public diplomacy officer in the Foreign Service inspired Undertow—a fictional collection of stories ripe with adventure and featuring a cast of personalities.

In the title novella, a disillusioned young diplomat seeks solace on Bar Beach, when she encounters a more dangerous situation than either she or her colleagues could imagine. A Javanese woman seeks to be liberated in “Yati’s Escape,” and a honeymoon in Seville turns sour in “The Honeymoon is Over.”

“Blue Sheep” trails an Arizona trekker losing hope while tackling the Himalayan terrain, and “Play it, Suresh” tells of a visiting scholar kidnapped by rebels in West Bengal. Finally, “Immersion” concludes the book with a tale of a wintery baptism in Soviet Moscow that ignites one writer’s creativity.

Sharpe offers an easily readable compilation that takes readers around the world with rich prose that is full of insight and wit.

Patricia Lee Sharpe is a journalist, teacher and retired FSO who served in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean for 23 years. She has published several volumes of poetry and fiction for which she won the 2002 Southwest Poetry Center’s Discovery Prize and the 2008 New Mexican’s Poetry Prize. She is a contributor to and co-founder of the foreign affairs blog WhirledView.


Driving Under the Influence: Two Novellas and a Story

Patricia Lee Sharpe, CreateSpace, 2014, $7.50/paperback; $2.99/Kindle, 176 pages.

In Driving Under the Influence, Patricia Lee Sharpe presents a humorous look at modern life in northern New Mexico with three fictional mini-stories. The collection entertains with witty commentary on the realities of everyday routines, while also touching on life’s more serious moments.

The title novella, “Driving Under the Influence,” follows five very different 60-something female friends who navigate a spectrum of crises including romances (or lack thereof), spousal abuse, widowhood, coronaries, sexual reorientation, auto accidents and pushy children.

“Dangling Woman” introduces Penelope Strong, who is about to be charged for her husband’s murder following a freak accident on a ski left. Family drama and politics intertwine, further complicating the situation: Penelope’s own daughter is out to punish her and the district attorney is running for Congress—a high-profile trial could be a prime publicity opportunity for him.

Lastly, in “Senior Moments” the narrator describes caring for her five-year-old grandson for an extended period. She recalls the notoriously distressing memory lapses that come in older age—forgetting or confusing names, for example—and reframes them in a positive, even joyous way.


Who Is Mr. Plutin?

Rebecca Strong, Curiosity Quills Press, 2015, $16.99/paperback; $4.99/Kindle, 314 pages.

From what Vika Serkova can remember, she is an American living in New York. But somehow she woke up one fine morning to find that she is married to an elite undercover Russian spy, lives in St. Petersburg and possesses a closet of designer stilettos and a fridge full of caviar and champagne. It is a glamorous new life, but…

Gradually Vika learns that she is on a secret assignment for the Russian president that sets her against her husband in a conspiracy big enough to get them all killed. To save herself and her family, Vika needs to fool them into defecting. Plot twists abound, as she must decide how far she’s willing to go to navigate dangerous situations in a city where “chances in life are only as good as the car you drive, the clothes you wear and the people you stay away from.”

This is an intriguing read. “Here is a heroine somewhat like the rest of us, who blunders around, tries her hardest, and is stunned at the way her life has turned out,” reads a review from Wandering Educators.

Rebecca Strong is the pen name of an FS spouse who has spent the past 15 years in South America and Europe. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Jewish Daily Forward and The Christian Science Monitor, among other publications.


The Extraordinary Journey of Harry Forth

Bruce K. Byers, AuthorHouse, 2014, $26.95/paperback; $3.99/Kindle, 552 pages.

Inspired by his own life and experiences, author Bruce Byers tells the story of Harry Forth—a shy, fictional 17-year-old high school student who struggles to fit in with his peers, so he channels his energy toward school, church and after-school jobs. Longing for more, Harry applies for and is accepted into a student exchange program. He buys a transcontinental bus ticket to Montreal and embarks on his first Atlantic crossing and great adventure.

Set in the summer of 1960, the hundreds of young Americans involved in the program were exceptional—most teenagers did not undertake transatlantic travel at the time. Once aboard the ship sailing toward his host family in Germany, Harry realizes he is on a much grander journey to see a more interesting world than he ever imagined.

Readers will follow Harry through his seaboard travel and first steps on German soil, all while he navigates new relationships, new cultures and the murky waters of the dating world.

“Harry’s story is a reflection of my personal experiences about intercultural relations and international diplomacy, based upon my 30 years in the Foreign Service,” says Byers in a post for

Bruce K. Byers joined the Foreign Service in 1971 with the U.S. Information Agency. He served in South Asia, Europe and East Asia, retiring in 2000. After retirement he worked in the Office of International Visitors and published essays on foreign policy topics for The Foreign Service Journal and the e-zine From 1995 to 1996, Byers served as AFSA’s USIA vice president.


The Immortality Game

Ted Cross, Breakwater Harbor Books, 2014, $13.99/paperback; $3.99/Kindle, 328 pages.

It’s 2138, and Moscow is just recovering from the complete societal collapse of the 21st century in this science fiction thriller. No one is to be trusted in Ted Cross’ version of this cold, chaotic future.

Times are tough, especially for the poor, and Zoya scrapes by working at a funeral home prepping corpses. Everything changes when she delivers a mysterious package to her brother and witnesses his murder. Inside that package, she finds two data cards that may hold the key to immortality.

Now on the run from mobsters, Zoya is not the only one who knows about the cards. Enter Marcus, whose father is alive, but only in the digital world—the miraculous cards could be the key to bringing him back to life. The race is on as other factions get involved to claim the cards for themselves and their own agendas.

More action and suspense abound in this gritty post-apocalyptic page-turner when entire nations scramble to procure the cards to be the first to reach New Eden—a possible Utopia.

Ted Cross has spent the last two decades traveling the world as a diplomat. He has visited nearly 40 countries, witnessed coup attempts, and mafia and terrorist attacks. He is currently posted in Baku with his wife and two sons. He is also the author of The Shard and Lord Fish (see the following entries).


The Shard: Chronicles of Xax

Ted Cross, Breakwater Harbor Books, 2015, $13.99/paperback; $3.99/Kindle, 528 pages.

The Shard opens with a dying king, a mysterious invader and a seer’s vision: Find the lost shard from the Spire of Peace, or the realm will drown in blood.

The story takes place in a world of elves, dwarves, wizards and humans. Following a devastating war hundreds of years ago, wizards created a tower with a beautiful crystal atop it to encourage peace. But the tower is long since destroyed, and the protagonists must search a dangerous dragon’s lair to find the sole remaining shard to defeat the new threat that has surfaced.

Reluctantly leading the quest is the minor noble Midas, who is torn between his duty to the realm and the desire to protect his sons. An unlikely band of heroes emerges, including two elderly rangers, a young recruit and several dwarfs. While the quest to retrieve the shard makes up the central theme of the novel, it is the complexity and growth of the characters that keep readers invested.

According to Bookworm Blues, a speculative fiction book review blog, The Shard’s prose is “tight and flowing, the world is well realized, and the quest is absolutely addicting ... and fun in its own right.”


Lord Fish: Chronicles of Xax

Ted Cross, Breakwater Harbor Books, 2015, $2.99/Kindle, 72 pages.

Norse and Viking mythology comes to life in this collection of three short stories and a novelette. Ted Cross weaves elements of his preceding fantasy work, The Shard, into Lord Fish.

The novelette “Dragon’s Play” follows a group of young Vikings who sneak into a dragon’s lair to find the lost talisman that holds the luck of their clan. They are shocked at what they discover.

In the title short story, “Lord Fish,” newly minted noble Lord Midas meets his nemesis in the realm’s most famous knight and must survive combat against the deadly warrior. Midas makes another appearance in “Stolen Castle.” When he is denied entrance to his long-deserted residence, he must find a way back into his rightful home. “Arrival” tells the tale of a group of scientists from Earth who come to colonize the planet of New Eden, along with one unexpected guest.

Cross’ fans will appreciate the familiar worlds and characters in Lord Fish, and new readers will find these stories an excellent introduction to his work.


A Time to Kill, A Time to Die: An Al Pennyback Mystery

Charles Ray, Uhuru Press, 2015, $12.50/paperback; $3.50/Kindle, 240 pages.

Private detective Al Pennyback returns in A Time to Kill, A Time to Die, this time seeking answers regarding a man who was executed after spending 10 years on death row. Henry Raylon—convicted of rape and murder—is found innocent shortly after his lethal injection when new DNA evidence surfaces that clears him of the crimes.

The judge who sentenced Henry to die receives a threatening note, and Al is hired to figure out who wrote it. As he immerses himself in the mystery, Pennyback uncovers prosecutorial misconduct on a grand scale and a murderer on the loose. People associated with the case begin to die, and Al finds himself in a race against time to catch the killer before anyone else gets hurt.

Readers can expect all the action, plot twists and surprises that Charles Ray is known for in his mystery writing with this 22nd book in the Al Pennyback series.

Charles Ray served in the U.S. Army for 20 years before joining the Foreign Service for a 30-year career during which he served as ambassador to Cambodia and Zimbabwe. A former newspaper and magazine journalist, Ray’s first full-length work was Things I Learned from My Grandmother About Leadership and Life (PublishAmerica, 2008). He has since published dozens of fiction and non-fiction books. Now retired, Ray resides in Maryland and devotes his time to writing and public speaking.


Buffalo Soldier: Mob Justice

Charles Ray, Uhuru Press, 2015, $10.50/paperback; $4.99/Kindle, 234 pages.

The eleventh installment of the “Buffalo Soldier” series, Mob Justice tracks Sergeant Ben Carter and his detachment as they stop in the town of Trinity on their way to Fort Union. This rest stop proves to be no respite: An angry lynch mob is threatening the sheriff and demanding he turn over a man accused of murder.

The sheriff asks for Ben’s help to maintain order, but things are not quite what they seem—the wanted man might actually be innocent. The more he learns, the more Ben questions what side of justice he’s actually on. The Buffalo Soldiers find themselves caught up in the murky politics and intrigue of the small mining town.

Once again, Charles Ray delivers an entertaining account of the unpredictable events that Sgt. Carter continually faces on the Western frontier.


Murder Most Unfortunate: A Rick Montoya Italian Mystery

David P. Wagner, Poisoned Pen Press, 2015, $26.95/hardcover; $15.95/paperback, 250 pages.

Professional translator and amateur sleuth Rick Montoya returns in the third installment of David Wagner’s mystery series. An interpreter job at an art seminar takes him to beautiful Bassano del Grappo, located on a hillside near Venice. Rick’s plans to explore the city are quickly put on hold when one of the seminar’s professors turns up dead.

He is once again pulled in to an investigation, which also includes finding two long-missing paintings by master artist Jacopo da Bassano. Betta Innocenti, the daughter of a local gallery owner, joins Rick in his quest, and the pair make a startling discovery: The very people who might know about the lost paintings are also the main suspects in the murder.

Wagner skillfully weaves the history of Bassano del Grappo and its habitants into the story, blending fiction and reality. His detailed descriptions of the city’s food and culture vividly transport readers to Italy. Fans of this book will also enjoy the first two in the series: Cold Tuscan Stone (2013) and Death of the Dolomites (2014). A fourth Rick Montoya mystery is currently in the works.

David P. Wagner is a retired FSO. His assignments in South America included Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Guayaquil and Montevideo. During three postings to Italy he consumed large amounts of Italian culture and food, much of which are described on the pages of his Rick Montoya Italian Mysteries. Wagner and his wife, Mary, live in Colorado.


City of Ghosts: A Mystery in Vienna

Shawn Kobb, CreateSpace, 2015, $10.99/paperback; $3.99/Kindle, 208 pages.

Looking to recover from a family tragedy and pull his life back together, American student Jake Meyer seeks refuge in culture-rich Vienna. Respite proves elusive, however, when he is suddenly pulled into a deadly scenario after providing a false alibi for an attractive peer seen fleeing the scene of a murder.

The story is set in Austrian history, and diplomatic elements are introduced in the form of Jess, a Foreign Service officer who is sucked into Jake’s dilemma and proves to be his only ally. When more murders begin occurring, Jake must survive long enough to prove his innocence to the police.

In this debut novel, Shawn Kobb takes readers on a vivid tour of Vienna and describes some of the real work of American consular officers. Fast-paced and full of adventure, City of Ghosts proves Kobb an excellent suspense writer. The second book in the “Mystery in Vienna” series is expected to be released in early 2016.

Kobb is currently posted to Vienna as a general services officer in Vienna after serving in Ukraine, The Bahamas, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C. Before joining the Foreign Service in 2006, he backpacked through Asia and worked as a 911 dispatcher. In that latter occupation, he had ample opportunity to develop plot ideas for future books while speaking on the phone with crime victims, murderers and naughty children.


Collection: A Rocket Malone Hard-Boiled Mystery

Shawn Kobb, CreateSpace, 2015, $3.99/Kindle, 165 pages.

Rocket Malone is a disgraced ex-cop swimming in gambling debts. He struggles to make ends meet in an unusual way—by cracking open the skulls of the rich to remove the implanted hardware and steal their memories.

Malone is eventually called on for a very peculiar assignment: His client’s head is missing, along with the memories it contains, and he is tasked with figuring out what happened. An unconventional cast of characters emerges—a beautiful woman, a mysterious foreigner and an eccentric billionaire—all of whom are willing to pay Malone handsomely to solve the mystery.

Desperately in need of money, Malone begins his quest for answers, but he might just find himself in the same shoes of the dead man if he can’t uncover the memories in time. In this e-book, Shawn Kobb has again penned a gripping thriller that will leave readers guessing until the very last chapter.


Turning Points: Stories of Love, Crime, and Faith

Duke Ryan, CreateSpace, 2014, $9/paperback; $2.99/Kindle, 148 pages.

Four novellas comprise this new edition of Duke Ryan’s previously published title, Impure Thoughts (2014). Out where Chicago’s sprawl meets the Midwestern plains, two brothers, the main characters in this collection, cope with painful change, senseless crime and thwarted love. Both very different, Weller is an action-oriented engineer and Larry is a dreamy and introspective intellectual.

“The Arsonist” describes a high school loner who plunges into a series of pointless felonies and forces a terrified younger schoolmate to become an accomplice. Weller, a volunteer policeman, must fight his own chief before he can stop it all. In “The Stunt,” Weller—also an ex-Navy pilot—returns to help a young protégé learn to fly. The result is spectacular but disastrous.

“God’s Phone Booth” introduces Larry, 12, who is confused about sex and religion. His mother and a priest only further bewilder him on the topics. “The Return of the Visigoths” opens with now-18-year-old Larry. Vivid daydreams help him escape painful realities, but they become real when he meets an older, married woman, and his troubles vanish—until the crash.

Duke Ryan served in the Foreign Service with USIA from 1961 to 1986. He is the author of The Vision of Anglo-America: The US-UK Alliance and the Emerging Cold War, 1943-1946 (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and The Fall of Che Guevara: A Story of Soldiers, Spies, and Diplomats (Oxford, 1998). He has written other shorter historical works, as well as commentaries for NPR.


Little Aunt Crane

Geling Yan, translated from Chinese by Esther Tyldesley, Random House U.K. (Harvill Secker), 2015, $14.99/paperback; $9.49/Kindle, 496 pages.

Starting at the end of World War II, this new novel by acclaimed Chinese writer Geling Yan spans several tumultuous decades of Mao Tse Tung’s rule. With the collapse of the Japanese occupation of Manchuria, the elders of the Japanese settler village of Sakito decide to preserve their honor by killing all the villagers in an act of mass suicide. Only 16-year-old Tatsuru escapes.

Fleeing, she falls into the hands of human traffickers and is sold to a wealthy Chinese family to be the clandestine second wife of the only son and the secret bearer of his children. Against all odds, she forms a friendship with the first wife in this story about love, bravery and how humanity endures in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Geling Yan, the wife of retired FSO Lawrence A. Walker, is an award-winning Chinese novelist and screenwriter. Born in Shanghai in 1959, she served with the People’s Liberation Army during the Cultural Revolution, starting as a dancer in an entertainment troupe at age 12. Yan published her first novel in 1985. She did much of the research for Little Aunt Crane in Japan while she and her husband were assigned to the American Institute in Taiwan in Taipei. A previous novel, The Flowers of War (2012), has been adapted for film by the Chinese director Zhang Yimou and stars Christian Bale.


Sevara: Dawn of Hope

Damian Wampler, Dincarnations, 2015, $12.99/paperback; $0.99/Kindle, 276 pages.

Damian Wampler presents a haunting and heart-pounding account in this coming-of-age science fiction thriller, which tells the story of Sevara, a 15-year-old girl who has been kicked out of her orphanage for refusing to marry. Left with nothing, she must fend for herself on the streets of Plexus.

Sevara finds herself in a bad place when a shapeshifting immortal gives her a powerful set of gifts and a second chance at life, setting into motion an adventure that will span hundreds of lifetimes. Conflict arises when Sevara begins a doomed love affair with the man she could have married. She must choose whether to protect her city or the only man she’s ever loved.

Damian Wampler joined the Foreign Service in 2009 and has served in Dushanbe, Harare and Karachi. Prior to joining the Service, he served with Mercy Corps and as a Peace Corps Volunteer. A photographer, playwright and graphic novelist, he is also author of A Man Named Jay (see the November 2014 FSJ).


Sevara, No. 1

Damian Wampler, Broken Icon Comics, 2015, $12.99/paperback, 132 pages.

A tie-in to Sevara: Dawn of Hope, this graphic novel finds Sevara after many centuries have come and gone and she and a group of shapeshifting immortals have guided humanity to peace.

However, one final task remains: to give up their memories and their immortality to live one last life. To do this, they must sleep for 10,000 years and forget. All the immortals follow through with their promise … except Sevara. She awakens to find that she is the only shapeshifting immortal left, and the world has returned to suffering and cruelty.

Far from the idyllic life she left, Sevara finds that the memories of her immortal life have infected humanity while she slept and her very own past may destroy the future. The story and script are illustrated by two Indonesian artists, Andre Siregar and Anang Setyawan, with cover design by Joshua Chinsky.


Selling Your Comic Book Concept: A Step-by-Step Guide for Creators

Damian Wampler, Amazon Digital Services, Inc., 2015, $0.99/Kindle, 145 pages.

Anyone with a great idea for a comic book needs to consult this step-by-step guide for breaking into the industry. The comprehensive manual takes prospective authors from story development to marketing and promotion, and includes advice on topics such as finding an art team, how to stay organized and what you should know about print versus digital distribution.

Damian Wampler’s unique background in language and visual arts lends credence to the advice in this handy e-book. Frustrated at the lack of guidance when he first sought to bring his own idea for a comic book to life, he provides a blueprint for success with comic book script formats, sample work-for-hire contracts and links to websites that can help you promote your book and raise funds.

Selling Your Comic Book Idea takes what may seem impossible and makes it simple, putting writers on the path to getting published.



Amy Knows Best

Cheryl Nugent, Holladay House Publishing, 2014, $12.95/hardcover, 28 pages.

Intended for students in kindergarten through second grade, Cheryl Nugent introduces children to healthy living via the story of Amy—an elementary school student learning about nutrition.

Written in rhyme and illustrated by Sarah Kaspar, Amy Knows Best follows one young girl’s quest to help her parents change their poor eating habits so that they can be healthier, happier people. Amy’s grandparents help when they come for a visit with more energy than they have had in years, much thanks to exercise and diet changes. Seeing this, Amy’s parents slowly alter their routine and learn just how fun it can be to eat well and be fit.

Young readers learn about concepts like organic produce and how fruits and vegetables fuel your body better than processed foods. Nugent’s book serves as an educational and colorful way to teach children the differences between healthy and unhealthy foods in order equip them with the tools to start making positive nutrition choices.

Cheryl Nugent, a Foreign Service spouse, is also the author of a work of fiction, Old Gorge Road: A Kentbury Mystery.


Becoming Fluent: How Cognitive Science Can Help Adults Learn a Foreign Language

Richard Roberts and Roger Kreuz, The MIT Press, 2015, $24.95/hardcover; $13.99/Kindle; $29.95/audiobook, 226 pages.

The authors of Becoming Fluent address myriad myths about language learning that hold adults back and encourage self-defeating behavior and a lack of progress in learning foreign languages. One of these discouraging myths is that adults cannot acquire foreign language proficiency as easily as children.

While children do have an easier time approximating native accents, and don’t often suffer from crippling self-doubt, happily, Kreuz and Roberts present evidence from the fields of psychology and cognitive science indicating that adults, in fact, have many advantages over children when it comes to language learning.

The authors not only prove that adults have these advantages, but demonstrate how to leverage them for speedy and effective learning. They address many aspects of language learning, including the creation of habits necessary for language retention, FSI’s diplomatic language training methods and fluency versus proficiency, among others.

“This is a one-of-a-kind book that will give adult language learners the confidence they need to start or continue studying a foreign language,” says Dr. Susan R. Fussell, professor of communication and information science at Cornell University.

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 in Europe and Asia with the University of Maryland University College. Roger Kreuz, who has taught for more than 25 years, is professor of psychology and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Memphis.


HiSET® Cram Plan™

Tim Collins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, $18.99/paperback, 390 pages.

For more than 50 years, CliffsNotes has been providing students with study guides containing only the essentials. Tim Collins has contributed to this long tradition with HiSET® Cram Plan™, a complete guide to preparation for the new HiSet® (High School Equivalency Test) exam.

HiSET® certification is now accepted in more than 14 states and several American territories, and other states are expected to begin accepting it in the near future. This guide includes coverage of all sections of the test. It also includes detailed study plans tailored to the amount of time the test taker has to study.

Collins succinctly explains the HiSET® test, the scoring system and test-taking strategies, and provides multiple practice tests with answer guides so users can track their progress. The HiSET® can open up many doors to employment and further educational opportunities for those who did not graduate from high school.

Tim Collins recently joined the Foreign Service as an English language officer in Washington, D.C., where he is regional program officer for English education programs in Africa. Prior to this, he was a professor at National-Louis University in Chicago, where he specialized in test preparation, teacher education and English as a second language (ESL). He has written more than 30 books for ESL and adult education, including the best-selling McGraw-Hill Education’s Complete TOEFL Preparation.


Am I Going to Starve to Death?: A Survival Guide for the Foreign Service Spouse

Donna Gorman, self-published, 2015, $8.99/Kindle, 152 pages.

“How do you get a Great Dane onto an airplane? What happens when you have a medical emergency in a country where they don’t speak English? Can you find guacamole overseas, and if not, how will you survive a two-year tour of duty?” Writer, blogger and Foreign Service spouse Donna Scaramastra Gorman answers all these questions and many more in this collection of advice for Foreign Service spouses.

Armed with wit, verve and experience, Gorman covers such diverse topics as deciding to join the Foreign Service; packing up your house; traveling with children and pets; adjusting to household staff; finding a job; making friends; helping children adjust; working as a community liaison officer; bidding on posts; dealing with health crises; attending and hosting events; and dealing with reverse culture shock when you return home.

This hilarious e-guide to thriving abroad is as indispensable for those embarking on an FS career as it is for those who have been in the Foreign Service for years.

Donna Scaramastra Gorman is a freelance writer who is married to a Diplomatic Security agent. The couple and their four children have been posted to Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, China and Jordan. She also spent a year as a single parent while her husband worked in Baghdad. The family is currently posted in Moscow. Gorman’s work has appeared in Newsweek, The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, The Foreign Service Journal, Seattle Times, Parade, The Insider’s Guide to Beijing and other publications.


Adaptation in Bulgaria: Three Bulgarian Productions of American Plays

Ken Moskowitz, Penny-a-Page Press, 2015, $9/Kindle, 278 pages.

In this comprehensive study, Ken Moskowitz provides readers with a fascinating cross-cultural perspective on three Bulgarian productions of well-known American plays.

The author examines Bulgarian productions of Dale Wasserman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” and Edward Albee’s “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?” with a series of questions: What transformations are necessary to best facilitate Bulgarian audience enjoyment and understanding? Are there some things that cannot be translated thematically or linguistically, and what replaces such “untranslatable” moments? And what can we learn about the nature of theatrical adaptation in general?

Moskowitz addresses long-held ideas regarding adaptation and audience using interdisciplinary methods from the study of theater arts, comparative literature, intercultural communication, international relations and LGBT studies, as well as detailed surveys of Bulgarian audience members and the plays’ critical reception.

Ken Moskowitz retired from the Foreign Service in 2015, after 30 years as a public diplomacy officer. He has served in Sofia, Tokyo, Budapest and Kyiv. He completed this project, his second book, on return from his posting as public affairs officer in Sofia. He is currently marketing director for the Arlington Players, and his articles on film, theater and public diplomacy have appeared in both popular and academic publications.


Sharing Secrets: A Conversation about the Counterintuitive Nature of Executive Leadership

Erin Soto, 2014, TLC Solutions, $26.50/paperback, 276 pages.

With more than 30 years in career leadership positions to back her up, Erin Soto offers a practical guide for those looking to follow in her footsteps. Sharing Secrets is an insider’s view of what makes a good executive, and will enable readers to improve their leadership and management skills. Avoiding buzzwords and business jargon, Soto writes accessibly, providing real world examples of challenges encountered in both her own career and the careers of the clients she has coached.

Individual chapters cover organizational culture, staff development, team motivation, communication, strategizing, investing in team members, time management, problem solving and work-life balance. She also advises that leaders employ empathy and compassion when dealing with others, rather than the ruthlessness some leadership guides promote.

“More than ever before, organizational leaders must effectively manage for change and strategically communicate more than just good ideas and intent,” says former Acting USAID Administrator Alonzo Fulgham. “Sharing Secrets provides a practical and concise change management roadmap for senior managers across the business spectrum.”

Retired FSO Erin Soto has been in leadership positions around the globe with the Peace Corps and USAID, serving in Mali, Senegal, Haiti, Peru, Cambodia and India. While in the Senior Foreign Service, she led programs related to health and education, conservation, counternarcotics, agriculture, governance and energy. She currently runs her own business, TLC Solutions, offering expert assistance in organizational development and executive coaching.


The Nomad Chef

Seija-Kaarina Cleverley, self-published, 2014, $39.50/hardcover, 240 pages.

Seija-Kaarina Cleverly has lived all over the world as a Foreign Service spouse, and in this cookbook she shares many of the recipes she has collected during her 30-year odyssey.

“Over the years I served at my table four-star generals, archbishops, movie stars, ambassadors, parliamentarians and business executives, not to mention a growing family and many friends who visited,” Cleverly says. “Above all, I learned the simplicity of great food and shared the human universals inherent in culinary tradition and rituals.”

A passionate cook, Cleverley has created a cookbook with a memoir inside. Alongside the recipes, she tells the fascinating stories of the people from whom she learned them and explains the rich culinary traditions behind them. There’s a reason they’ve been handed down from generation to generation!

With colorful illustrations by Janina Eppel and beautiful photographs showing the cooking process and finished products, readers are taken on a grand culinary tour that includes cheese pies from Greece, samosas from South Africa, baklava from Iraq, eggplant salad and red lentil curry from Sri Lanka, fish with tomato sauce from Cameroon, holiday ham and coconut cookies from Finland and chickpea polenta from Italy—and much more.

Seija-Kaarina Cleverly and her FSO husband, Michael, have lived in Milan, London, Rome, Athens and Helsinki.


Nong’s Thai Kitchen: 84 Classic Recipes That Are Quick, Healthy and Delicious

Nongkran Daks and Alexandra Greeley, Tuttle Publishing, 2015, $14.95/paperback; $9.99/Kindle, 160 pages.

Master Chef Nongkran Daks has created a gorgeous, colorful and delicious collection of authentic Thai recipes assembled after years of travel and teaching Thai cooking. Her passion for this globally popular cuisine is evident as she explains what makes Thai food so captivating.

Each recipe is easy to follow and accompanied by beautiful photographs of ingredients and finished dishes. She also gives an overview of Thai ingredients and necessary cooking utensils, basic methods and techniques used in Thai cooking, as well as consumption etiquette.

In addition to all of the classic Thai favorites, Daks includes the famous Pad Thai recipe, with which she beat celebrity chef Bobby Flay on the Food Network’s “Pad Thai Throwdown” challenge in 2008.

Nongkran Daks is executive chef and owner of the Thai Basil restaurant in Chantilly, Virginia. She has taught Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese cooking in Bangkok, Beijing, Hawaii and Washington, D.C., and is the author of several cookbooks. Her husband, Larry Daks, is a former Foreign Service officer.

Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, cookbook author and food critic. She has been an editor for Vegetarian Times magazine, and a food writer and editor for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. She is a member of the prestigious Les Dames d’Escoffier and a co-founder of the D.C. chapter of Slow Food USA.